Design & Development

Tampa releases plan for Rays ballpark

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, USA

Featured image credit: Visit St. Pete Clearwater

The City of Tampa has rekindled plans to secure Major League Baseball (MLB) in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays by releasing renderings of a proposed new stadium for the franchise.

The renderings, which have been released to local broadcaster Fox 13 and can be viewed here, locate a stadium within the planned ‘GasWorx District’ that will see 25 acres of industrial land transformed into a mixed-use development.

The stadium would be located south of Ybor City and its design is said to have been commissioned by the Rays. In December 2018, the Rays took the decision to abandon a project for a new stadium in Ybor City after challenges related to funding. The club had unveiled plans to create the most intimate ballpark in MLB. The headline feature of the Populous-designed ballpark was a translucent roof accounting for 30% of the project cost and fully enclosing the facility.

The stadium would have had 28,216 fixed seats and a total capacity of 30,842. It was projected to cost $892m (£720.6m/€837.7m) and had been earmarked for completion on Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season.

Commenting on its latest proposal, the City of Tampa told Fox 13: “There are still significant questions that need to be answered in terms of financing and infrastructure. Tampa’s position remains as it’s always been: Tampa would be an ideal location for the Rays stadium, but anywhere in Tampa Bay would be a win for our community.”

The news comes after the City of St. Petersburg last week received a proposal from the Rays and real estate company Hines for the development of the site on which the team’s Tropicana Field stadium currently sits. The proposal is one of four that have been received by the city, with others having been submitted by 50 Plus 1 Sports, Restoration Associates, and Sugar Hill Community Partners.

The proposal from the Rays and Hines features a “state-of-the-art” ballpark for the team, as well as more than 5,700 multi-family housing units, 1.4 million square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior living residences, and a 2,500-person entertainment venue. Hines previously served as the construction manager of Petco Park, home of MLB’s San Diego Padres.

In response to Tampa’s move, the City of St. Petersburg said: “We believe the Historic Gas Plant District is the best location for a new MLB stadium for a variety of reasons. We understand the Rays are looking at alternative options just as the city considers all its options related to the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District.”

In January, Rays principal owner, Stuart Sternberg, expressed his frustration after MLB rejected the franchise’s innovative ‘Sister City’ venture with Montreal, forcing the team to refocus its efforts on securing a new home in the local region.

The Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field, where the team has played since its debut season in 1998, is currently due to expire after the 2027 season.