All the candidates need stadiums.
Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership has been seeking a new stadium somewhere in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market for years and has come up empty. There is another plan on the table, build a stadium-village on the property which houses the present St. Petersburg stadium. The project would cost about $1.2 billion in 2023 money and that price will go up. Rays’ ownership is willing to put up half the money but needs municipal partners to get the first shovel into the ground at some point in the future. Pinellas County, Florida elected officials might offer about $300 million from a local tourism tax as seed money to help build the baseball facility. But that figure isn’t firm and seems to have been pulled out of a hat. Just ask Barry Burton who is part of the county negotiation team talking to Rays’ ownership.
“To be able to create the model, we had to put in something. That’s a reasonable number for plug number. Whether it’s up or down, it’s good for assumptions.” Burton thinks St. Petersburg officials will throw $300 million the ballpark’s way. Pinellas County has some other expenses such as repairing beaches that have been damaged by hurricanes and throwing money into MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies ownership’s upgrade of the business’s spring training facility in Clearwater. Rays’ ownership has partnered with a Houston, Texas-based development company named Hines to build a stadium-village and St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth Welch picked the Rays-Hines group to develop the property. But all of this does not mean the Rays’ ownership wants to remain in St. Petersburg. The Rays’ ownership may also want to see what is available in Tampa. Rays’ proposed ballparks have come and gone in the past because the financial package needed to finish a stadium never materialized.
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