Rays of Tampa Bay, location of the fairgrounds Possible site for a new stadium
First reported by 95.3 WDAE radio co-host Tom Krasniqi on the “Ronnie & T-Kras” show, the Rays are eyeing a new area to possibly call home. In the tweet, Krasniqi states “BREAKING: Sources confirm to me that the Fairgrounds area is the location being explored by the #Rays and county officials as a possible site for a stadium. Exploratory state. @953WDAE.”
This report comes just hours after Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg held a press conference on the future of Tropicana Field and plans for redevelopment in the coming years.
Welch at the press conference referred to “the Rays’ involvement in the plans and the directly related issue of including a stadium” in those plans with him stating “as our attorney accurately stated the last year, the Rays issue is key to developing the right development plan for these 86 acres.”
By the general consensus from the press conference, Mayor Welch still said he was “optimistic” about the Rays’ relationship with St. Petersburg for development, but with the recent news on the Fairgrounds site , you wonder where the ground is between the city and the Rays.
Over the years, it’s looked like a tug of war between the cities, as St. Petersburg and Tampa have tried to claim the team in hopes of keeping them in the area. From Ybor City to a sister city plan to even keeping them in St. Pete, several options have been proposed, each of which has yet to come to fruition.
If the Rays end up deciding on the Fairgrounds, it would be the third Tampa Bay professional team to call the Fairgrounds, as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Rowdies have both previously been tenants at the site. The Fairgrounds site is still used for concerts and events, with the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater hosting events and the surrounding grounds.
That being said, time is running out, it seems, with the Rays to come up with a plan. Just a few weeks ago, Ronald BlumYahoo Sports writer said in an article Manfred says, “The Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s need to get to a new stadium soon and have left open the possibility of considering a relocation.”
With the development of St. Pete, this may allow the Rays to have a presence around the park, similar to The Battery in Atlanta or Texas Live! in Arlington, which makes for a great game experience, but Tampa brings the team closer to more people and can draw more fans into the game. Only time will tell, as Mayor Welch plans to make a decision on the plan “by the end of the year,” he says.