ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays pulled back the curtains on Tuesday afternoon to reveal their plans for a new ballpark in Ybor City, adding excitement to the quest to build a home in Tampa for future generations of baseball fans.Principal owner Stu Sternberg highlighted the contingent of dignitaries at The
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays pulled back the curtains on Tuesday afternoon to reveal their plans for a new ballpark in Ybor City, adding excitement to the quest to build a home in Tampa for future generations of baseball fans.
Principal owner Stu Sternberg highlighted the contingent of dignitaries at The Italian of Tampa that put on display the renderings for a next-generation neighborhood ballpark with all the bells and whistles.
"I'm proud and incredibly excited to present our vision of a ballpark and one that is of, by and for the people of Tampa Bay," Sternberg said. "I speak for the whole Rays organization and the 20 years we've had here today that we expect to be here for generations to come. We believe that baseball can not only survive but thrive in Tampa, in Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay region."
Chief development officer Melanie Lenz said the ballpark would "provide a ballpark experience like no other."
Highlights of the ballpark that will have just 28,216 fixed seats -- with a total capacity of 30,842 -- include a fixed translucent roof, upper decks that extend only as far as the bases and sliding-glass exterior walls to which will allow the outside to be enjoyed inside the building. The playing field will be an artificial surface.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, a Tampa native, attended Tuesday's news conference and left impressed with the plans.
"I looked at today as an exciting day for the Bay Area," Cash said. "I mean Tampa and St. Pete both. I know for whatever reason there's a little bit of a divide. The best thing about it is that baseball, the intent is for it to stay in the Bay Area, stay in our community."
The idea will be to seamlessly blend the ballpark into the historic urban fabric of Ybor City. The ballpark's accessible design will enable it to serve as a year-round community asset, with the potential for programming, events and creative partnerships.
The Ybor location is within a 30-minute drive of more than 1.6 million people who call the Tampa Bay area home. The ballpark is projected to cost $809 million, with additional infrastructure costs of $83 million, and it could be completed for Opening Day 2023.
In January 2016, the Rays gained permission from the city of St. Petersburg to look outside the area for possible new stadium sites. The Rays announced in October 2017 that a site in Ybor City fit the bill as their preferred location for the ballpark.
Said team president Brian Auld: "Now, I know the people here are going to want to know who's paying how much for what. We do not have those answers yet. What we have is the scope of the project and the total cost for that project."
The Rays have not committed to a figure that they plan to contribute to the project, though Sternberg has said in the past that a list of variables, such as having a commitment for naming rights, could boost the club's contribution.
Yes, a lot of work still needs to be done before a new stadium can come to fruition, but Tuesday's reveal offered Rays fans a view of what might be.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.