Developers show off proposed stadium for Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Some call it the "Rays Field of Dreams," a half-billion dollar design developers presented to St. Petersburg City Council members Friday afternoon.

A modern design with the option of a see-through retractable wall and roof, it sits in what is now an empty field in Carillon.

"We want the Rays happy at home and home is right here," said Susan Johnson of Cityscape LLC. "We love the Tampa Bay Rays and we want to keep them in the only home they've ever known."

The design is based on the development team's past projects, including famous stadiums like the ones that house the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"That really spoke to me," said St. Pete City Council Chair Leslie Curran. "I think it was really exciting and I think we need to have that conversation."

Perhaps the most distinct difference between the new design and Tropicana Field is it's mixed used structure. It includes the construction of nearby and adjoining baseball suites for hotel rooms, businesses, and residents who want the Rays as neighbors and the possibility of a baseball diamond for a front yard.

With thousands of people living, visiting, or working next door, developers say they are solving a problem that's plagued the Rays for years: access to fans.

"It's the epicenter of Tampa Bay with Rays baseball at the heart of it all," said Darryl LeClair of Cityscape.  "Now is the time to move forward with these discussions."

Cityscape and its partners presented presented 5 variations of the stadium, ranging from $577 million for a stadium with both a retractable roof and wall, to $424 million for a basic open-air stadium.

They argue the money is best spent in Pinellas County because of a constantly cramped traffic flow over the Howard Frankland Bridge into Tampa, especially concentrated during afternoon rush hour which also tends to be game time.

Still, no matter where any stadium may be built, the Rays have to sign an amendment to their current contract, which binds them to 15 more seasons at Tropicana Field.

And no matter how much money is spent, no one is ready to say who will pay.

Cityscape told city council members they need to meet with the Rays first.

"We're miles away from that," said Mayor Bill Foster. "That's puzzle piece 200 and there are 1,000 pieces."

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