Tampa Bay Rays Have Proposed a Stadium Without Saying Who Will Pay for It?
Renderings Courtesy: @RaysBaseball
So, I'll just go ahead and ask the question: What's the point of releasing renderings of a proposed nearly $1 billion baseball stadium if you don't actually have a plan to pay for it?
Oh, wait, we live in an era of handouts to sport teams, right?
The Tampa Bay Rays had a big dog and pony show, releasing renderings and a full-on proposal for a new baseball stadium near Ybor City, deep in the heart of Tampa, not far from downtown and the Channelside Entertainment District.
The proposal is for a 28-30,000 seat, glass enclosed $800+ million dollar facility with what the hope will be surrounding retail developments.
Which is all well and good....but
The team did not release how much they'd contribute to such a project. The Rays also did not say if--or how much the Tampa Bay area would be contributed to said project.
Yes, the proposal has local News organizations, the Rays and we are pretty sure--Major League Baseball excited. The Rays currently play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg some 20+ miles away from where the new facility would be located.
If you aren't familiar with "The Trop"...well, let's just say it is a fine basketball arena where catwalks, speakers and other random object come are a part of the field of play. The Rays have---since their inception, had trouble filling the stadium....often playing in front of 10-15,000 fans in a nearly 40,000 seat stadium.
In addition, the team was essentially obligated for several decades to play in the facility and have off and on battled to be granted freedom to find a new stadium location with St. Petersburg leaders, losing at every turn. The Rays had an agreement binding them to the City until 2027.
Finally in 2016, the city allowed the Rays and owner Stuart Sternberg the freedom to look for other sites to host the team on the condition of a buyout. That buyout would be $24 million if the team left Pinellas County less if they don't.
But...despite the fawning reports coming out of the Tampa Bay area, a ton of work remains to be done.
Commissioning and showing off pretty renderings at a "Made for TV" event is great and will generate publicity. It's good PR and gets the ball rolling--in theory
However this is a "Non-Starter" unless the team figures out how to pay and build the building shown in those drawings. And as of right now Sternberg and the Rays have no idea how that part will happen.
Something tells me there will be a "Significant" public contribution--though none has been announced at this time. The Rays will have to contribute something to the project, I think......
The rash of new monuments to sporting excess have become slightly fewer and further between these days and the State of Florida has placed restrictions on Government funding...in large part due to the Miami Marlins previous owner Jeffery Luria who extorted a ton of money out of Dade County for an over-the-top baseball monument in Miami and put low budget and non-competitive teams in it to play.
Don't jump to conclusions Tampa fans and think there will be a brand new, shiny ballpark ready to go Opening Day of 2023. The City says they are willing to engage Sternberg and the team about how to pay for such a building.
But be prepared to pay for it folks. Rare is the occasion when a Professional Sports owner forks over the money to build a stadium for his team. This despite the fact every single one of them could afford it.
Of course being able to afford it and being willing to pay for it are two different things.....