Imagine a baseball park that is free and open to the public when no games are scheduled. Imagine real grass but with a roof to shield you from Florida’s frequent rain storms.
Those are just a few of the ideas and innovations Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld has in mind for a new stadium no matter where it gets built.
This week on Florida Matters, (Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.), we’ll feature a newsmaker conversation with the Rays president.
Auld joined the Rays in June 2005 as the team’s director of planning and development. The Stanford and Harvard graduate is in his second year as team president. His mission is to energize the community through baseball and emphasize the team’s commitment to the area.
Despite turning the franchise into one of the winningest teams in baseball since 2008, Major League Baseball is concerned. Not about the Rays organization but about the market.
“What we’ve done on the field has been the envy of just about every other team in baseball,” Auld said. “And to not see those revenues increase has been a little troubling to the league. And it surprised us a bit. We certainly expected to see a greater return at the gate when the team performance turned around.”
Yet Auld said the Rays ownership and management has confidence in the Tampa Bay community. And that’s why he’s working to develop an innovate design and concept that would make a new ballpark a worthwhile community investment.
“We’ve worked really hard to build our fan base into what it is today,” Auld said. “We’re not interested in leaving it.”
Auld spoke with WUSF's Carson Cooper Tuesday on topics ranging from the $300,000 the team raised for the Orlando shooting victims to the Rays campaign to find the “perfect site” to build a new stadium.