Rays Announce Plans for New St. Pete Ballpark - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Rays Announce Plans for New St. Pete Ballpark

Rays Announce Plans for New St. Pete Ballpark

Rays Beat
By Adam BerrySeptember 19, 2023
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are closer than ever to securing a long-term home in the Tampa Bay area. The Rays reached an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to build a new, $1.3 billion ballpark as part of the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site, an 86-acre area also known as the Historic Gas Plant District. The club, city and county made the announcement at Tropicana Field’s “162 Landing” on Tuesday morning.There is still a public approval process that must take place over the next few months, with votes coming from the County Commission and City Council, but this is the first time the Rays have reached this step in their long-running pursuit of a new ballpark. As a result, it appears more likely than ever that the club will remain where it has been since its inaugural season in 1998: in downtown St. Petersburg.The message was splashed up on every scoreboard inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday morning and reiterated by everyone who stood behind a microphone, from principal owner Stuart Sternberg to St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch to other club, city and county officials: The Rays are “here to stay.”
Rays stadium renderings“Major League Baseball is here to stay, right here,” Sternberg said. “We are celebrating our 25th anniversary as a ballclub. A generational fanbase is taking root. And today, we take a huge step forward to ensuring that the Rays fans will be here in Tampa Bay for generations and generations to come.”The Rays’ proposal features an approximately 30,000-seat ballpark (with the capacity expanded to 35,000 for special events) with three seating levels, a fixed roof, an artificial turf field, operable walls and a pavilion design. The Rays would pay for more than half of the stadium’s estimated cost, with the city and county covering approximately $600 million and the Rays responsible for the rest.“I am incredibly excited. This is a big, meaningful and really positive development,” team president Brian Auld said. “I also feel a ton of pressure to make sure that we can execute on this vision that particularly the mayor of St. Petersburg has entrusted us to deliver, but also the county commissioners. So we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”According to the agreement, the entire investment in the Historic Gas Plant District development project is projected to be more than $6 billion. Approximately 15-20 acres, including the ballpark and two event parking garages, would be owned by Pinellas County, leased to St. Petersburg and subleased to the Rays on a 30-year lease agreement with options to extend it to 40 years.The club’s current 30-year use agreement at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. If the agreement is approved and everything goes according to plan, ballpark construction would be begin in late 2024 and be completed by late ‘27. The Rays would begin playing there on Opening Day 2028 and accomplish their oft-stated goal of keeping the club in the Tampa Bay area for generations to come.“This will be a transformative project for the Rays, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County,” Sternberg said. “We have proudly served as Tampa Bay’s Major League team for 25 years, and we are thrilled to be in position to do so for decades and generations to come.”For more on the Rays’ new ballpark deal in St. Petersburg, read the full story on MLB.com.  THE 20-HOMER CLUBIsaac Paredes celebrates a home runFor the first time in club history, the Rays have five players with at least 20 home runs this year: Isaac Paredes (29), Jose Siri (25), Randy Arozarena (22), Brandon Lowe (21) and Yandy Díaz (20).They’ve had four players go deep at least 20 times in four different seasons — 2016-17, ’19 and ’21 — but Lowe broke the tie Friday night. They have a chance for more, too, as Luke Raley is sitting on 19 homers entering the week and Josh Lowe has 18.If both get there, the Rays will have seven 20-homer hitters — tied for second-most in AL/NL history, behind only the 2019 Twins (eight).
 SURPASSING CCBrandon LoweBrandon Lowe’s first-inning homer Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards was the 105th of his career, which pushed him past Rays Hall of Famer Carl Crawford for sixth on the franchise’s home run leaderboard.Lowe now trails only Evan Longoria (261), Carlos Peña (163), Aubrey Huff (128), B.J. Upton (118) and Ben Zobrist (114) on Tampa Bay’s all-time list.  RECOMMENDED READINGTaylor Walls• From Sunday night in Baltimore, on the Rays clinching a fifth straight trip to the postseason during a disappointing loss. Read more>> Taylor Walls and Jalen Beeks are back, and Jason Adam is making progress. Read more>>• The Rays are No. 3 in MLB.com’s latest Power Rankings. Read more>>• Sam Dykstra wrote about Mason Auer, Double-A Montgomery and another strong year for the Rays’ farm system. Read more>>  WELCOME BACK, AKIAkinori Iwamura jumping off second baseContinuing to celebrate their 25th anniversary season, the Rays will unveil two statues commemorating historic moments in franchise history before Saturday’s game at Tropicana Field: Longoria’s walk-off homer in 2011’s Game 162 as well as Akinori Iwamura jumping off second base to celebrate the Rays winning the 2008 American League Championship Series.All fans in attendance will receive one of two anniversary replica statues, and Iwamura will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
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