The Tampa Bay Rays are a step closer to moving on from much-maligned Tropicana Field, having agreed to a new stadium deal that they’re expected to announce Tuesday, according to a report.
The domed ballpark would open in 2028 in downtown St. Petersburg, not far from the team’s current venue, and have a capacity of 30,000, the Tampa Bay Times reported Monday.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg expects the team to cover more than half the costs of the $1.2 billion stadium, he told the newspaper this month. The city and Pinellas County are also set to help pay for its construction.
The Rays have played at Tropicana Field since joining Major League Baseball as an expansion team in 1998. Nicknamed “The Trop,” the poorly attended ballpark can seat nearly 43,000 people but typically operates with a capacity of around 25,000 (this year’s average attendance is less than 18,000 per game, fourth-worst in MLB), with tarps covering the remaining sections.
Tuesday’s announcement would conclude 16 years of efforts by the Rays, who previously explored moving to Tampa and even splitting games in Montreal.
The report Monday comes less than two weeks after Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times he was “highly optimistic” a new stadium deal would be completed this year.
The Rays’ 30-year lease at the indoor Tropicana Field ends in 2027.
A new stadium would directly affect the Yankees, who compete against the Rays in the American League East division and play multiple series in St. Petersburg every year.
Players have been critical of The Trop, which features a white ceiling and four catwalks that can interfere with batted baseballs.
“Not my favorite,” then-Yankees outfielder Harrison Bader said during a series there last month. “You know, turf is a little sticky. Roof is a little tough.”
The Texas Rangers were the last MLB team to debut a new stadium, opening Globe Life Field during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. That ballpark hosted the neutral-site World Series that year, with the Rays losing in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Kansas City Royals have also proposed opening a new ballpark in 2027 or 2028, while the Oakland A’s received approval for a stadium in Las Vegas as part of their planned relocation there.
On Sunday, the Rays clinched a spot in the MLB playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. They entered Monday two games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.
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