Rays’ Spring Training Lease Is Up In Six Years

Rays owners could be looking for a new spring training training site.

Major League Baseball owners may have locked out its employees, the players, and removed its employees’ images from the various websites that MLB runs but that doesn’t mean that the business of Major League Baseball has stopped. The year 2028 seems far in the future but for the Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership, it is around the corner. The Rays’ ownership lease with St. Petersburg is done in six seasons and time is beginning to grow short in the planning and eventual construction of a new ballpark for the 2028 season. It takes a number of years to get money and then build a stadium. It would also be helpful if there was a plot of land available for a stadium in Tampa or St. Petersburg and it would be additionally helpful if those who will be financial-partners knew if the team planned to play 41 or 81 home games annually.

Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership also has to make a decision on its spring training facility. The Rays’ franchise has held its spring training portion of the baseball calendar in Port Charlotte, Florida since 2009 and the franchise is committed to hold spring training in that city through 2028. But Tampa Bay Times reported if Rays’ ownership decides to stay in the Tampa Bay area and move to Ybor City, the franchise could move its spring training site location to Pasco County. Charlotte County claims having the Rays’ spring training headquarters in Charlotte has an economic impact report. In 2020, the county released a figure that the Rays’ spring training generated $9.5 million in a COVID-19 shortened pre-season. The Rays’ 2021 spring training was impacted by COVID-19 but the county claimed Rays’ pre-season baseball had a $3.5 million impact. MLB is a business, nothing more and nothing less even when the players are locked out.

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Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash answers a question during a news conference before an American League Division Series baseball practice Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays play the Boston Red Sox in the bet-of-five series. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)