Rays complete agreement for new St. Petersburg stadium
The Tampa Bay Rays are putting relocation rumors to bed.
The club announced Tuesday an agreement to build a new ballpark in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.
"Major League Baseball is here to stay - right here," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said Tuesday, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The new stadium would be built near the club's current home, Tropicana Field, as part of the redevelopment of the city's Gas Plant District and open for the 2028 campaign.
Much like the Trop, it expects to have a fixed dome roof, artificial turf field, and around 30,000 seats, according to Topkin. It's expected to cost $1.2 billion, with the Rays footing at least half of the bill.
"We're going to be here for a very long time," Rays co-president Brian Auld said, according to The Associated Press. "We're all really thrilled that for the first time since we started this we have a clear path to make sure the Rays stay in Tampa Bay for generations to come."
The team's lease with Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. The 33-year-old stadium has been the Rays' home since their inaugural 1998 season and is considered one of MLB's worst venues. One of the several criticisms of the stadium is the roof's catwalks that often come into play on towering fly balls.
The Rays rank 27th in attendance this season, averaging 17,777 fans per game. Despite fielding a perennially competitive team, it would be their highest finish in attendance since ranking 22nd in 2010.
Over the years, there had been speculation of the Rays relocating to Montreal, Nashville, and other cities as they vied for a new stadium.
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