The Tampa Bay Rays won't be moving the team across the bay, at least for now. Team leaders announced Tuesday that the plan for a new stadium in the Tampa neighborhood of Ybor City has fallen through.
Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg addressed media today regarding the proposed ballpark location in Ybor City. pic.twitter.com/Y7KamIJh2d
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) December 11, 2018
The Rays held a phone press conference from Major League Baseball's Winter Meeting in Las Vegas.
Rays Baseball Operations President Matt Silverman said the keys to moving the team from St. Petersburg to Ybor City just weren't there.
That included information on where the estimated $892 million to build the stadium would come from, such as both public and private investment. Other concerns include site control and whether the stadium would open on schedule.
Silverman said, “Obviously we're disappointed that this particular ballpark won't be built by 2023, but we're just as optimistic that we're going to figure this out.”
Silverman added that the team won't pursue an extension of its "memorandum of understanding" with the city of St. Petersburg which gave the Rays three years to look elsewhere to build a new ballpark. That expires at the end of this month.
But he said they're going to make sure the Rays are a permanent fixture in Tampa Bay.
Local politicians on both sides of the Bay also reacted to the news Tuesday.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen has been the county's chief negotiator in trying to get the Rays to move to Tampa. He told Spectrum Bay News 9 Tuesday they're not going to give up now.
"So we're going to continue to work on our end to tighten up some of the details that are necessary, and I still remain extremely optimistic, it's just going to take a little bit longer than we had hoped for, but we'll continue to do what we have to do on our side," he said.
Another person who was trying to get the Rays to cross the bridge, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, wasn't shocked by the decision.
"I think we've got to the point where we are at an impasse at best, this is no surprise," he told Spectrum Bay News 9. "I had a conversation with one of the Rays executives two weeks ago where he said they were going to pull the plug on this."
And St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, who let the Rays negotiate with Tampa despite a lease that keeps the team tied to Tropicana Field until 2027, told Spectrum Bay News 9 that he still maintains that the Rays' best option is staying put.
"I've always said, right from day one, that I thought that the Tropicana Field site, for the team, if they were really looking at what was in the best long-term sustainable interest for the team, that site I felt gave them the best chance of long-term success," said Kriseman.