Rays’ Ownership And St. Petersburg Politicians Closing In On A Stadium Agreement

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Hundreds of millions of public money would go into the construction of a stadium-village.

It appears that politicians in St. Petersburg, Florida are ready to hand over as much as $1.6 billion to the ownership of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays’ franchise to build a stadium-village. Rays’ ownership will know within a week if it will get the money. The Rays’ ownership wants a 30,000-seat venue, which it hopes will create ticket scarcity and drive prices up because of the law of supply and demand. Right now, there is not much of a demand for Rays’ tickets partially, according to critics, because the Rays’ present stadium is located across the bay from Tampa where the money and population base is greater than St. Petersburg. But the Rays’ business is relocating its home facility virtually to another area on the same property so it remains far away from potential customers in Orlando and in central Florida.

St. Petersburg is planning to spend $287.5 million to help pay the bill of the $1.3 billion stadium. St. Petersburg plans to kick in another $142 million for infrastructure including building roads and constructing sewer lines and the city will sell about 65 acres of public land well below the appraised value for $105 million for the property. Pinellas County will also be sending money the Rays’ ownership way. No word on whether the Rays’ ownership will be forced to change the team’s name from Tampa Bays Rays to the St. Petersburg Rays although that was a consideration in the negotiations. The city and county politicians think that the ballpark will be the anchor of a stadium-village that will be an economic generator even though there is ample evidence that does not work out for taxpayers. Rays’ ownership has struck out in getting a stadium built in Tampa and in Ybor City. St. Petersburg politicians are ready to give the store away to keep the baseball team in town.

Eflin Solid In Rays Win Over Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin delivers to the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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Evan can be reached at evan_weiner@hotmail.com