No Rays’ Ballpark Groundbreaking Ceremony Yet

St. Petersburg’s mayor wants to keep the Rays in town.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch wants Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg to remain where his Rays’ business is presently located. In St. Petersburg. In a stadium that would be built near the team’s home by the 2028 season. Sure, Sternberg has partnered with a Houston, Texas-based development company named Hines to build a stadium-village and Welch picked the Rays-Hines group to develop the property. But all of this does not mean the Rays’ ownership wants to remain in St. Petersburg. The Rays’ ownership may also want to see what is available on the other side of the bay in Tampa. And just because Mayor Welch decided that the Rays-Hines proposal to build a stadium-village was the best out of a number of proposals submitted to the city, that does not mean the project will ever see the light of day. There is a little problem called financing. Rays’ proposed ballparks have come and gone in the past because the financial package that was needed to finish a stadium never materialized.

There are many moving parts in St. Petersburg mainly in financing that need to align. Will the money for the stadium-village come from Rays ownership or will it be a partnership with Rays’ ownership, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and possibly the state of Florida? There is also the question. Did Major League Baseball devalue the Tampa Bay market when it threw support behind a “Sister City” plan which would have seen Rays’ home games split between somewhere in the Tampa Bay market and Montréal? The Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Rays ownership did not view the Tampa Bay are as a full time functioning Major League Baseball area. In 2022, MLB ended its support of the “Sister City” plan. It is the top of the first inning for St. Petersburg in the stadium game.

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Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld, left, talks to St. Petersburg mayor Ken Welch after Welch delivered his State of the City speech Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Welch selected the team led by the Tampa Bay Rays to redevelop Tropicana Field. The Rays made their pitch as part of a joint proposal to rebuild Tropicana Field and the 86 acres it occupies with international real estate investment and development group Hines.(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)