Where’s the money?
The owners of the Tampa Bay Rays think they will have a much better understanding of the franchise’s future sometime in the foreseeable future, perhaps as early as the end of the year or the beginning of spring training in February 2019. The Rays ownership wants to get out of the St. Petersburg stadium that has housed the team since 1998. The lease agreement that requires the franchise to remain in the stadium until 2027. A few things are happening. Rays ownership has identified property near downtown Tampa that they believe would work for their needs and plan to build a stadium on that land. Rays ownership has until the end of the year to work out a deal to get out of the St. Petersburg lease. Rays ownership understands that it may take years to get the ballpark built. There is no indication how much money will be need to build the ballpark and how much of that would be coming from the ownership group, how much will be kicked in by Tampa taxpayers and whether the state of Florida will be putting up money for the stadium.
Can a baseball stadium with construction starting in 2020 be built for $800 million, a billion dollars? There is also another consideration. Major League Baseball spring training. Just how many times can Major League owners go to the well and ask for subsidies? In the Tampa Bay market, the Toronto Blue Jays owners have gotten local and state subsidies to upgrade the Blue Jays spring training complex. The Philadelphia Phillies ownership and Clearwater elected officials are looking for additional funding for a Phillies spring training complex renovation from local county and state elected officials. Florida uses tourism taxes to help pay for state-wide sports facilities and sports owners constantly go back to Tallahassee wanting more. Rays owners are in that line.
Rays ownership wants a new stadium.