What will it take for Tampa to attract the Rays? A new analysis sets out a roadmap.


TAMPA — Analysis commissioned by the Tampa Sports Authority shows an all-season baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays could be built in Ybor City for about the same price as an $892 million proposal unveiled in 2018.

The figure is lower than the more than $1 billion price tag predicted for a full season after Major League Baseball last month killed the Rays’ plan to split the season between Tampa Bay and Montreal.

Ensuring the analysis included a full-season option was a priority for Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan. The move avoids having to go back to the drawing board, he said.

“I was adamant that the full season model would be included,” Hagan said. “We are further along than we would have been.”

Local leaders, including County Commissioner Ken Hagan, said they were pleased that an analysis of the Tampa Bay Rays stadium included considerations for both the mid-season and full season. The team had pushed for a split season, but Major League Baseball rejected the idea. [ SHADD, DIRK | Tampa Bay Times ]

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor agrees with that view, her spokesperson Adam Smith said.

“I know the mayor is pleased that the TSA and its consultants have looked at both the split season and full season options because obviously the full season is now the only option,” Smith said Sunday.

Castor issued a statement later Sunday: “The TSA and its consultants have performed excellent due diligence. Our goal was and remains to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars while working to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay. We still have a lot of work to do. »

A 28-page tax analysis was carried out by the consultant AECOM. Another consultant, Skanska, produced a 43-page assessment of the venue. Both studies were summarized in a 10-page summary by Sports Authority stadium consultant Irwin Raij. the Tampa Bay Weather obtained the draft documents on Sunday.

Here are some of the important takeaways:

  • A stadium with a capacity of 27,000 fans – 24,000 fixed seats, 1,500 berm seats and 2,500 standing places only – at a cost of $799 million. The figure would increase from $90 million to $160 million with the addition of a roof. It’s a must for playing baseball in the summer months, Skanska said.
  • Paying much of the public portion of stadium costs through a potential tax or assessment in a new “stadium district” that encompasses the stadium site and areas beyond. The boundaries are roughly Palm Avenue east into Ybor City, south to Adamo Drive, and northwest around Booker T. Washington Elementary School to Nebraska Avenue.
  • An additional $14 million a year in property taxes from nearly 6 million square feet of “auxiliary development” in Ybor City, mostly from developer Darryl Shaw’s GasWorx project.
  • A $21 million parking lot. The source of this information is listed in the analytics as “confidential”.
  • No spring training games at the Ybor City baseball stadium.

Hagan said the studies point to a variety of funding options that would avoid having to dip into general revenue from the City of Tampa or Hillsborough County budgets.

“I’m still optimistic that most of the sources of funding included will be user fees,” Hagan said, referring to an assessment of goods and services bought and sold in the stadium district.

It remained to be determined in the analyzes how much of the cost of the stadium would be paid in public dollars. The Rays said they were willing to meet half the cost of a half-season stadium. They estimated the price of such a stadium at $700 million.

The Rays declined to comment on Sunday.

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The studies bring Hillsborough County and Tampa closer to putting together a financial package for the ballpark funding, Hagan said.

“It allows us to take the next step, to identify potential sources of revenue. It brings us a little closer to that,” he said.

Other Commissioners have taken a more measured approach.

“We’re really waiting for them (Rays) to signal the way forward,” Hillsborough commissioner Harry Cohen said. “For me, the end of the split season concept has brought us back to square one, so I think anything that exists at this point is very premature.

Tampa City Council President Orlando Gudes, who sits on the board of the Sports Authority, has not seen the scans. But he said the city faces an affordable housing crisis that he believes outweighs any rough contribution.

“The Rays aren’t my biggest problem right now,” Gudes said.

He said he was getting a lot more calls from people facing steep rent increases. He lobbied for the city to introduce rent stabilization measures in response to the crisis.

Two locations in Ybor City have been mentioned as possible stadium sites since the idea of ​​moving the Saint Petersburg team there was first made public in 2018. The projected cost at the time for a stadium full season was $892 million for a site on Adamo Drive. The new studies appear to be based on a site on the northern edge of Ybor City, the former KForce complex on Palm Avenue.

The studies also showed the Rays could be serious about a spring training location in Pasco County.

Publicly, the team has indicated that it plans to play 16 spring training games at the new Ybor baseball stadium, but that plan has changed, according to the Skanska report. The team told city, county and state officials Dec. 17 that Major League Baseball’s spring training games “are no longer scheduled at the venue.”

“That must mean they’re coming to Pasco County,” Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said Sunday. “At least I hope so.”

Local and state officials previously said the team is focusing on Pasco County for a spring training site. The favorite for a location sits in 124 acres of public property just north of State Route 54, less than 2.5 miles west of the Suncoast Parkway in Odessa.

There, Pasco County owns 49 acres and Pasco School District owns 75 acres — a former county utility spray field — that is targeted for construction of a future high school.

The complex would include a stadium with a potential capacity of 10,000 seats for Major League spring training games, regular season minor league games and player development grounds.

Simpson previously said the Pasco legislative delegation would be willing to help with potential state funding for a spring training site depending on the details.

On Jan. 15, Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, submitted a $35 million appropriation request for a “spring and youth training facility.”

The money would go towards “the planning and construction of a sports training complex and tournaments for young people”.

It would feature several full-size training grounds, including a stadium pitch with lighting and spectator facilities, a team clubhouse and locker rooms, indoor and outdoor training facilities, kitchen and dining facilities. , accommodation for players and associated parking.


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