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Rays unveil new ballpark design for Ybor City site

Photo Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays

As the great Yogi Berra once said,”It’s deja vu all over again.” Today, the Tampa Bay Rays ownership and front office staff, along with architects, unveiled the designs for what could be a new stadium in Ybor City.

Same story, different location

Nearly ten years ago, the Tampa Bay Rays brass had an idea to transform Al Lang Stadium, where the team had held spring training since it’s inception, into the new site for a state-of-the-art ball park. That project made it all the way to the point where symbolic shovels were being placed into the ground where home plate would have been, but ultimately it fell through. Since then, it has taken the Rays organization time to look at sites in Tampa, and once they were allowed, they zeroed in on several possibilities. The one that made it through the process was the site in Ybor City. The area the Rays hope to call home one day sits right near Channelside Drive and Adamo Drive (state road 60). And while everyone claims it’s 30 minutes from everywhere, this is Tampa after all.

It really does look like a beautiful design

As you can see, it’s pretty much all glass, from the roof to the walls. It’s not going to be the biggest stadium in the MLB. In fact, it’s actually going to be one of, if not the smallest, park in the major leagues. The ark can accommodate 30,842 fans with 28,216 fixed seats. It will feature the smallest upper deck in baseball, while containing 17 unique and comfortable seating areas. Some of the seating areas include tables for four with great views of the field, as well as 21 distinct platforms for viewing or social gathering. There will also be a fountain (no, not like the one at Marlins Park..) with available seating there as well.

The team envisions this being something that is open year-round. Examples that were given by Brian Auld were:

“Yoga classes in the outfield, a playground, come in a use the WiFi or host a meeting as well as kids being able to run through the outfield.”

That’s a lofty goal if it happens, but would be something extremely cool to see.

The cost….

Here is the kicker: The cost for the entire project is an estimated $892 million. That includes parking garages, a pedestrian bridge across Adamo Drive, and other upgrades to make the facility state-of-the-art. The ballpark itself will cost a whopping $809 million dollars, with nearly $240 million just for the glass roof alone. Rays President Brian Auld mentioned funding:

“We don’t have those answers yet.”

That’s the one concern all Hillsborough county taxpayers are worried about. How much are they going to try and get from them? As things progress, you can bet there will be a set number that investors, the Rays, and other organizations will pitch in.

Closing out

It truly is a beautiful park, and could be amazing for the community down in Ybor City and downtown Tampa, especially with the Jeff Vinik-funded Water Street Tampa project. So we will keep you plugged in here to all the developments in the coming weeks and months.

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