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Tampa Bay Rays relaunch ballpark site hunt

The Tampa Bay Rays have reopened the search for a new ballpark site after they were unable to reach a deal for a proposed Ybor City location near downtown Tampa, Florida.

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays would not ask St. Petersburg officials for an extension of a three-year window to explore alternative sites to Tropicana Field. That window expires at the end of this year.

Sternberg emphasised that his sole focus is on keeping the Rays in the Tampa area. But the Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. Sternberg said:

We’ll continue to look in Tampa Bay and we’ll put our efforts to that. One way or another, we need to figure out where the team is going to be in 2028, if not sooner. Ideally sooner, but absolutely by 2028.

The Rays had already pushed the proposed opening of the Ybor City site to the 2024 baseball season as negotiations aimed at reaching a financing plan dragged on. Now, with no site and no funding specifics, that timeline is off the table.

Sternberg and Rays president Brian Auld said all possibilities — both in terms of site and financing — are on the table. St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman has mentioned the Rays building a new ballpark at the Tropicana Field location.

Sternberg said progress had been made on the Ybor City plan, but it wasn’t close to enough. He added:

While the momentum and progress are real, we are not close at all to a workable framework. I’m not discouraged. We don’t have necessarily Plan B right now. But we’re committed to getting at it, and we’ll regroup right now, go back to the drawing board and, I would imagine, come the new year, try to figure things out.

We’re a pretty resourceful group and determined group, and we’ll try to use all those powers we have and all the intuition and everything else you might think of to get something done in Tampa Bay.

Image: Tropicana Field