The Tampa Bay Rays are about to announce that they're building a brand-new stadium.
The announcement — which was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times and is expected to arrive at around 10:30AM Tuesday morning — regards a finalized deal to construct a new stadium in downtown St. Petersburg, which the Rays will move into in 2028.
Photos of the breathtaking stadium concept have already been making waves on social media. This new stadium concludes a search that has been long in the works, as the Rays have been actively seeking a new site for their team since at least 2016, knowing that their 30-year lease at Tropicana Field ends after the 2027 season.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) September 18, 2023
Ultimately, the team isn't moving very far, as their new stadium will be part of the redevelopment of Tampa Bay's 86-acre Historic Gas Plant District — where Tropicana Field currently sits.
Rays fans have plenty to be excited about regarding this new stadium. For one, it will cost about $1.2 billion to build (which the team expects to "pay for half or more" of, and are talking to investors to contribute to the other half in exchange for team shares), will sit 30,000 people, and will include a fixed dome roof. The fixed roof is noteworthy, because Tampa Bay has apparently been intending to build an open-air stadium once their Tropicana Field deal was done — but MLB officials wouldn't allow it.
Another reason Rays fans should be stoked about this announcement is because it confirms their team is staying in Tampa Bay. Over the past few years, there have been many rumors about the Rays potentially relocating to another city; namely Montreal, Nashville, or Las Vegas. Fans can now breathe easy, since those rumors will be nixed once the official announcement is made.
Tampa Bay mayor Jane Castor echoed this sentiment. "We've said from Day One that the ultimate goal was keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa Bay," Castor said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, "and our community can celebrate that outcome." Crisis averted, in other words.
Lastly, the biggest reason Rays fans should be thrilled is because Tropicana Field is considered the MLB's worst stadium — by a long shot. The "Trop", as it's commonly called, has no noteworthy features, forgettable food options, and fan attendance always ranks among the MLB's worst — despite the Rays being one of baseball's best teams.
It's a good day to be a Tampa Bay Rays fan.
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