Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa just achieved a new milestone in what has been a nearly decade long chess game to find the Tampa Bay Rays a location to build a new stadium.
“It meets all of their guiding principles to be in an urban environment,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said.
The land located between Channelside Drive, Adamo Drive, N. 15th Street, and E. 4th Avenue would be the boundaries for the new stadium. Currently, the location is an expansive industrial site.
Hagan said a newly formed non-profit consisting of business leaders made an agreement with private land owner Darryl Shaw to make the deal happen.
Shaw is the founder and CEO of BluePearl Veterinary Services and a major investor in the Ybor City real estate market.
Hagan said working with a private owner will cut some red tape and expedite the process of what the stadium and the surrounding area will look like.
"The private sector moves quicker than county government,” Hagan said. “It allows us to gain site control and begin a public debate on the location without spending any County money. It allows us to have serious conversations about how we are going to pay for it. I can tell you we are not going to raise sales taxes as was the case with Raymond James stadium the teams going to have to invest a significant amount of money into the deal.”
People we spoke to about the new location think it will be an economic boom to the area.
“I think Ybor and the area itself would explode,” Trevor Skeens said. “We already have Channelside, you have the lighting there which is nice, but when lighting there aren’t playing with baseball it’s something different to do.”
There is no price tag on how much the stadium might cost. Hagan said it is still too early to discuss that.
Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld has issued the following statement in response to the announcement made by Hillsborough County:
“This is another important step in the site selection process, and we are grateful for the time and attention that went into making it a possibility. We look forward to getting to work evaluating this option, along with those in Pinellas County including the Tropicana Field site, as a potential future home for Rays Baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come.”
In April, the city of St. Petersburg launched a campaign called Baseball Forever.
Mayor Rick Kriseman took to social media on Tuesday tweeting:
Confident the Rays will be playing #BaseballForever in St. Pete. Hills. County has a long way to go. Regardless, St. Pete comes out on top.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) October 24, 2017