In addition to Sternberg announcing the intention of the Rays to build a new stadium, the creation of an organization called Tampa Bay Rays 2020 was also announced on Friday.
There are still a number of obstacles to the Rays moving into a new stadium.
They'll lead a new organization called Tampa Bay Rays 2020, created to build community and business support in bringing the club to Hillsborough County.
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If the Rays and local officials can successfully complete the effort, the new ballpark would be constructed at a 14-acre site north of Ybor Channel and open by either the 2022 or 2023 season. "It represents the finest opportunity for Major League Baseball to thrive in this region for generations to come".
"I don't at this point see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but that's because we really haven't crunched the numbers yet", Buckhorn said, adding that there will probably be more "equity partners" and developers who might want to develop around the project. The possibility of this decision has been rumored since last August, but Friday marked the first time that the Rays have publicly confirmed that it is their preferred site. He said he's prepared to plan for what St. Petersburg would do if the team relocated. But the Rays' current setup is the opposite, which he blamed on Tropicana Field and its location.
"This is a major step", said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who heard directly from the team.
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Hagen said Ybor City checks all the boxes for a new ballpark. For the Rays' part, Sternberg was willing to commit to investing "a good amount of money", but declined to offer specifics, pointing out that the stadium had yet to even be designed.
There is also no timetable in place as to when the stadium will be built, thanks in large part to the financing questions.
Sternberg did say that numerous same people who designed the never-built waterfront St. Pete stadium are still with the team and would be involved in creating an Ybor proposal. "We don't know what the outcome will be, but I can certainly tell you from the city's perspective, we're going to put our best minds to the task".
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