The Tampa Bay Rays have needed a new ballpark since before they played their first game. Their long battle for a new home is finally over.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are set to announce an agreement for a new ballpark on Tuesday. The stadium will be part of the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District and is expected to open for the 2028 season.
Tampa Bay Rays finally getting needed ballpark
Tropicana Field used to be considered to be a state of the art ballpark. It’s presence was almost enough to entice the Giants to leave San Francisco, a move that was shot down by the league. The Trop became obsolete before a major league game was ever played as the Orioles’ ballpark at Camden Yards ushered in a new era. Multipurpose stadiums, such as Tropicana Field, were no longer desirable.
A new stadium should make a tremendous difference in terms of attendance. The ballpark is expected to have a fixed dome, an artificial turf surface, and seat approximately 30,000 fans. It will be much easier to access than the Trop, a key issue in those attendance woes. At $1.2 billion, and with the Rays projected to pick up half the cost, it is a significant investment in the area.
This is also the end of a 16 year saga. The Rays had been looking for a new stadium on both sides of Tampa Bay, with numerous projects never getting off the ground. It got to the point where there was a plan for a split season between Tampa Bay and Montreal before a possible move to Canada. But now, the Rays will be staying in the Tampa Bay area.
Time for MLB to focus on expansion?
The Rays new stadium could open the door for expansion in Major League Baseball. The league has been clear that they wanted the Rays and A’s to find a long term home before any additional teams came in. As the A’s are expected to move to Las Vegas, and the Rays are set to announce a new stadium, those issues have been solved. It is now a matter of determining which cities will get a new team.
There are plenty of candidates. Nashville has been looking to bring a team to town, courting the Rays for relocation. Montreal has been considered a candidate since the Expos left for Washington DC. Oakland may push for an expansion team after the A’s were ripped away. Portland is another potential destination. And now, MLB can start to look at adding teams.
The Tampa Bay Rays are about to get their new ballpark. Their 16 year battle is finally coming to an end.