A group of Tampa business leaders will hold a news conference Friday afternoon to unveil a plan to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to their city - and team ownership may be set to say Ybor City is their preferred location.
Rays' representatives aren't saying anything publicly.
However, the Tampa Bay Times reports Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan says that Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will publicly announce for the first time that the Rays want to build a ballpark in Ybor City. That announcement is expected to come at a 1:30 p.m. Friday news conference at the Tampa Baseball Museum.
The hold-up would be how to pay for a new stadium, which is where the corporate campaign - dubbed "Tampa Bay Rays 2020" - would come in. The effort is headed up by Chuck Sykes, CEO of Sykes Enterprises, and Ron Christaldi, a partner in the law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick. Shumaker is an underwriter for WUSF Public Media.
The 14-acre site is near the downtown's Channel District and is mostly made up of warehouses currently. Previous reports said the proposed site is between East Fourth Avenue and Adamo Drive to the north and south and 15th Street and Channelside Drive to the east and west.
It's also believed to be the top choice of Hillsborough County officials.
The Rays reached an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg in 2016 that gives them through January 2019 to look for a site for a new ballpark in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the news by saying on Twitter he believes the Tropicana Field site is still the best home for the Rays, but he adds the city will begin making plans for a future without the team.
This is the process unfolding as envisioned in order to keep the Rays in TB. The easy part is picking a favorite site. Hard part is figuring out the rest. I believe the Trop site is the best future home for the Rays, but we will also begin to master plan the site w/o a stadium.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) February 8, 2018