Feb 8, 2022 - Sports

Potential Rays stadium in Ybor City to cost nearly $1 billion

Illustration of a location pin wearing a Tampa Bay Rays baseball hat.
Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Victor Decolongon /Getty Images

A Tampa plan to bring the Rays to Ybor City now has a price tag while St. Petersburg, scrambling to catch up, could offer up one of the team's most coveted sites: Albert Whitted Airport, right on the downtown waterfront.

Driving the news: A Tampa Sports Authority analysis of the Ybor site says an open-air, 27,000-capacity stadium would cost $799 million, per the Tampa Bay Times.

  • A roof β€” considered a necessity for summer baseball here β€” would cost another $90 million to $160 million, bringing the total to a little less than $1 billion.

Meanwhile, observers are wondering if a recent tweet from St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch about new potential for the city's waterfront municipal airport could be a sign the site is once again in play.

  • Welch's office didn't respond to Axios' request for comment.
  • The 110-acre airport site was dream-boarded by the Rays in 2017, as the Tampa Bay Times' John Romano points out, but public sentiment has long protected the airport.

Between the lines: After a subsequent meeting with the Rays, Welch tweeted last week: "St. Pete is back in the game!"

Why it matters: With the Rays' lease at Tropicana Field expiring in five years, the clock is ticking for the team to find a new home and St. Petersburg has yet to tempt the team.

Flashback: In 2019, Major League Baseball allowed the Rays to explore a plan to split seasons between here and Montreal.

Details: The Ybor analysis suggests a variety of funding options, like a special "ballpark district" levy and taxes on ancillary development, but doesn't say how much taxpayers would be expected to pony up.

What we're watching: Using county records, DRays Bay found that Hillsborough County is projected to have $194 million available for a new stadium, or less than half of what municipalities might be asked to spend.

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