February 19, 2019

Tampa Bay Rays officially announce plans to move the team to Tampa

10 February 2018, 04:32 | Anna Jefferson

The 2018 season will be the 20th at Tropicana Field for the Tampa Bay Rays

The 2018 season will be the 20th at Tropicana Field for the Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays and city and business leaders in Tampa are talking baseball - specifically a new stadium.

"That's going to be a major component of tomorrow's press conference, where the Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg will be present, and he's expected to say publicly, for the first time, that Ybor City is the Rays' choice and where they want their next ballpark to be located", said Hagan. The Rays have played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since their inception.

There's still a long way to go with regards to the stadium project, but Friday's announcement is an important development for the Rays franchise and the city of Tampa. Another plus is the 14-acre site that includes mostly warehouses now has been assembled and is controlled by a nonprofit run by Tampa business leaders Ron Christaldi and Charles Sykes, who also are leading the Rays 2020 drive. "This is a major step", said Hagan, who added he was given this news from the team.

Sternberg called the Ybor City site "the finest opportunity for baseball to thrive, and it is attractive for several reasons".

The Rays are hoping to move out of the Tropicana Field and have picked a site to build a new stadium.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn also took the podium, thanking St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman for having "the courage to do the right thing to make sure Rays stay in our region".

The team noted that it will be putting in a "good amount" of money towards the stadium's construction although, it didn't cite a hard number or give any sort of range that Tampa could rely on moving forward. It will be clear in less than a year whether this attractive vision for what Sternberg described as a "next generation neighborhood ballpark in Ybor City will work — and it could be the last, best option". Once the site is approved, the team would still have to secure financing for the stadium.

A deal agreed upon previous year allowed the team to search for a new ballpark location through January 2019.

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