[Ed. Note: We are reposting this from Saturday because we know nobody reads the internet on the weekend]

On Thursday the Tampa Bay Devil Rays unveiled their new uniforms and logos and officially announced that they would be changing their name to the “Tampa Bay Rays”. Knowing that these moves would anger a large percentage of the team’s current fans, the front office decided that Friday would be a good time to distract the fan base with a real big cookie. A cookie big enough to seat 35,000.

On Friday, the Rays leaked to the press, plans to build a 35,000 seat-open-air baseball stadium to be built along the bay at the current site of Al Lang Field (AKA Prospect Energy Park).

The Tampa Bay Rays have developed a bold plan to build a $450-million downtown stadium that would give fans waterfront views and protection from rain…The stadium, to be built on the site of Al Lang Field, would seat about 35,000 and could open as early as 2012. Hitters there would have a chance to send the ball into the bay…Financing is still being worked out, but a primary source would be proceeds of the sale of the Tropicana Field site to a developer who would build a large retail/residential complex there. The Rays also would make a contribution, perhaps as much as $150-million, covering one-third of the cost…The team also would seek legislative approval for $60-million of state money in future sales tax revenue from food, beer and merchandise sales in the new park.

The idea of the Rays playing in an open-air stadium that overlooks the bay makes us giddy as a school girl. The innovative idea of using two sail-like structures to cover the field in the event of rain, is such a simple and obvious idea, it can only be described as brilliant considering nobody had thought of it before. Our only question (besides wondering how plausible the funding scenario is) is how will the new stadium fit in the proposed location.

Based on the description of the stadium, home runs over the right-field fence would have a chance of landing in the bay, and left field would sit above the current parking lot on the north side of Al Lang Field. The problem with this scenario is that even a small minor league park such as Al Lang Field would not fit in the space provided between Bayshore Dr. and 1st St.

We decided to see exactly how a new stadium would fit into the allocated space.

Here is an aerial view of Al Lang Stadium

As can be seen from the aerial view, Bayshore Dr (to the east) and 1st St. (to the west) draw closer together traveling north past the stadium. Even Al Lang Stadium would not fit between those two streets if it were shifted even slightly to the North.

Based on the description of the proposed stadium (35,000 seats, open air), the closest approximation we could come up with was the new PNC Park in Pittsburgh which seats 38,500. In fact, PNC Park works well, because the right field wall runs parallel to the river in Pittsburgh.

We took an outline of PNC Park, drew it to scale and overlayed it on the above image.

If the new park is rotated and shifted, so that right field is along the water and left field is over the current parking lot, the stadium would need to be pushed out over the water, so as to avoid disrupting 1st street. Doing so, would require the city to shut down Bayshore Dr. In fact, part of the bay would have to be filled in to accommodate the new stadium.

Here is an idea of what a new stadium would look like from an aerial view, using PNC Park as a reference.

Is it possible that the Tampa Bay Rays could be playing in a new open-air stadium as early as 2012? We are not getting our hopes up yet, as team and city officials still have a lot of hoops to jump through. And we are still not absolutely certain a new stadium would fit in the proposed location, but if the goal of the team was to divert the attention of their fans…it worked. We barely remember that Kevin Costner has made a lot of bad movies.

Rays on the bay? [TampaBay.com]
For Better Or Worse, The New Uniforms Are Now Official [Rays Index]

 
 

11 Comments

  1. raysrule07 says:

    If I’m understanding the story correctly, the St. Pete Times found out about this and made it public, and only then did the team call the press conference to announce it.

    I don’t think the team leaked this to distract the fans from the new uniforms. I don’t really see how this helps them at all.

  2. ben says:

    Retractable roof?

  3. Robert Rittner says:

    In one story I read, the proposal includes a sail-like covering that seems to open like 2 fans to cover the stadium if it rains. As for the site, it is small, eliminating parking on site, but the proposal includes closing Bayshore drive and perhaps incorporating it into the stadium, possibly as a warning track. As for the parking, that is not necessarily a problem. You can be sure entrepreneurs will establish lots nearby just as they have in the Bronx. There is space downtown and the team might also set up a shuttle to get people to the stadium. The beauty of site itself is about as perfect for baseball as you can imagine.

  4. Ben says:

    Do you have a link to the story, robert?

  5. Robert Rittner says:

    Re: Rays Planning New Stadium

    Took some Googleing but here’s the link:
    http://www.tbo.com/sports/special/raysstadium/

    This is from a posting at DRays Bay. The details of the plans I found in today’s St. Pete Times. It is a front page story and I think is available on line.

  6. The Professor says:

    The sails are a brilliant idea that i am surprised nobody thought of before. and Robert…yes. the site is perfect. Obviously they have thought it through. I was just trying to figure out the HOW. the papers when reporting the story just assumed it would fit on the lot. i was just showing that it would take more work than that. there is going to have to be some manipulation to the area around the stadium.

  7. Scott says:

    Though I have long contended that a new stadium is not necessary (wins will dictate whether or not people come out), the proposed site would be brilliant. It’s still a long drive for me from Orlando, but I’d be even more inclined to come, I think.

  8. Gus says:

    Ironic — but the original design for the stadium had a fabric covering (this was in 1979). The Pinellas Spors Authorty went with the dome as a hedge to keep the facility in play as a convention center/NBA/NHL arena in the event baseball didn’t expand. This plan is genius if they can sell the Trop land for a decent number to pay off the building.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know how to contact someone in the front office. To be perfectly frank, I want to help them in their transition to Port Charlotte for next years spring training. I am looking for a front office staff person to talk to. any help out there would be appreciated.

    MSTEAM1ONE

  10. The Professor says:

    send me an email at the tips link on the front page and I will forward you an email address.

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