ST. PETERSBURG -- Due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian, the Rays will not be able to hold Spring Training in Port Charlotte next year.
The Rays and Charlotte County announced the decision in a joint statement on Thursday night. Charlotte Sports Park has been Tampa Bay’s Spring Training home since 2009.
“Following a joint assessment of the damage to Charlotte Sports Park caused by Hurricane Ian, Charlotte County and the Tampa Bay Rays have determined there is not adequate time before the Rays 2023 spring training is scheduled to begin to get the park in suitable condition to host games,” the statement said. “Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training.
“We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts. The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks.”
There was significant damage and heavy flooding throughout Port Charlotte and Charlotte County after Hurricane Ian made landfall just south of Punta Gorda, Fla., on Sept. 28. The storm struck the southwest coast of Florida and slowly moved across the state. The Tampa Bay Times reported on Sept. 29 that there was obvious damage done to the Charlotte Sports Park complex, noting that a worker on site described water damage and electrical issues inside the buildings.
The Rays have not yet finalized their plans for Spring Training, but they are considering a variety of options. One possibility could be playing their Grapefruit League games at Tropicana Field, but they would likely need a larger space with more fields to hold their workouts.