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Hillsborough Commissioner Says County Needs To Be Part Of Rays Split Season Plan

The design for the now defunct Rays stadium in Tampa's Ybor City
Tampa Bay Rays
The design for the now defunct Rays stadium in Tampa's Ybor City

Commissioner Ken Hagan says Hillsborough County should be part of the discussion if the Tampa Bay Rays follow through on a plan to split seasons between Florida and Montreal. 

Hagan criticized the Montreal plan when the Rays announced it in June, and he blamed St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman for not doing enough to keep the team.  

But during Wednesday’s board of county commissioners meeting, Hagan said he had a change of heart.    

“After thoughtful consideration. If this dual home ballpark model allows or provides Tampa the opportunity to get back at the table and speak with the team, then we should consider it,” Hagan said.  

Commissioners heard from Tampa Sports Commission attorney Irwin Raij. He and Hagan brought up a proposed “sports and entertainment district” in Ybor City as a possible home for the Rays, either as a ballpark or spring training facility. The site is a federally designated “Opportunity Zone,” meant to encourage private investment. Raij said he’s working on Opportunity Zone projects in other cities but declined to provide details because of attorney-client privilege.  

The Rays are required to stay at Tropicana Field until 2027 and can’t negotiate with other cities before then. Commissioner Mariella Smith warned the county could face legal action for even bringing up the issue in a public meeting. 

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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