It’s a brouhaha that’s been brewing in the Tampa Bay area for years: The Tampa Bay Rays say they need a new stadium. The City of St. Petersburg holds a contract that says the Major League Baseball team is obligated to play at Tropicana Field through the year 2027.
Even so, the Rays haven’t been quiet about their perceived need for a newer, better stadium. A few years back, they floated the idea of building a new stadium on St. Petersburg’s waterfront. That idea was nixed in the court of public opinion.
Now, team officials are planning to meet with both the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commissions. The Hillsborough meeting, which will be open to the public, is set up for Jan. 24. The meeting with Pinellas officials takes place Jan. 29.
Officials from Hillsborough County are saying the meetings are meant to simply open regional dialogue with the team. Pinellas is indicating the same thing. This is despite the fact that new stadium locations have been scouted by the team and include spots in both counties – outside the city of St. Pete, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Trop was built with funding from St. Petersburg and Pinellas County with some help from the state. The overall cost of building and maintaining the stadium is anticipated to rise to $323 million by the year 2016, according to a story published in the Times in 2008. The original cost was set at $85 million.
While it’s too soon to tell what the Rays hope to gain from talking to the two counties, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is clear on one thing: “As long as the first pitch isn’t before 2028, they can talk about anything they want,” the Times reported him as saying.
What do you think Tampa Bay? Do you agree with Mayor Foster? Should the Rays have to play at the Trop through 2027? Or, do you think it’s time for the team to move on to greener pastures? Share your thoughts in the comments section.