The Tampa Bay Rays are dropping the Trop, but they are staying put in the Sunshine State.
The team announced on Tuesday that it has completed a deal with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County for a new stadium that could open as soon as 2028.
The new venue will be a climate-controlled dome with around 30,000 seats and artificial turf. It will also have transparent, mobile walls and a roof designed to “capture the essence of a ‘Pavillion.’”
The estimated cost for the stadium is $1.3 billion. It is part of an 86-acre, $6+ billion redevelopment plan at St. Petersburg’s Gas Plant District, a project that includes affordable housing, office space, retail and a 4,000-seat concert venue.
“This project aims to produce a rich, urban experience that fortifies and reimagines the area’s 20-minute neighborhood tradition,” the Rays wrote on their website. “People will flock to this destination where small businesses retain visibility and accessibility, ensuring benefits for the City of St. Petersburg while guaranteeing the inclusion of the Black community in this success.”
There is still a pending public approval process that is set to take place over the next few months. If that goes according to plan, stadium construction can begin in late 2024 and a possible move as soon as 2028.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said earlier in September that the organization would pay for “half or more” of the new stadium cost. The city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County would be responsible for the rest of the cost.
“Lifting up residents from every part of St. Pete is imperative for our city’s success,” St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch said in a statement. “This project will be a prosperous game changer for those who live in, work in and visit St. Petersburg.”
Tropicana Field has been the Rays’ home since the franchise was founded in 1998, and the Rays’ lease with the dome concludes in 2027. The team has ranked bottom five in attendance each year since 2011.
Now, the organization is looking forward to injecting excitement into the team and the community.
“This project is a home run and means so much more to us than sports,” Pinellas County Commission Chair Janet Long said in a statement. “We’re excited that the Rays are FINALLY here to stay. This is the largest economic development project in this county’s history. It goes without saying how proud we are to be a part of creating a new venue for Pinellas County families to enjoy for generations to come.
“Our hometown team will stay right where they belong – at home, in Pinellas County. Go Rays!”