Aaron Sharockman of the St. Pete Times, who is to the Rays new stadium as Rachel Nichols is to Brett Favre, has the latest on the quest to find a home for a new Rays stadium. And if this latest report is any indication, things do not sound promising.
All four sites that have been considered in mid Pinellas would require major and sometimes massive infrastructure improvements. At least two would require building thousands of parking spaces. And three could need road upgrades and possibly a new interstate exchange…The group studying the possible locations, A Baseball Community, has yet to consider the potential problems with any of the mid Pinellas sites, and declines even to talk about them. But the Rays recent acknowledgment that they prefer a location closer to the population center of the Tampa Bay area will no doubt trigger questions about the feasibility of such a move.
The benefit to moving to a mid-Piniellas location is the proximity to a larger population.
A team study determined that roughly 1.2 million people live within a 30-minute drive of the Gateway (north St. Pete) area, compared to 600,000 who live that close to downtown St. Petersburg. The team also says north St. Petersburg has almost twice as many employed people within a 30-minute drive…The Rays say only 19 percent of the area’s population is within a 30-minute drive of their current home, Tropicana Field. In Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Diego, and Minneapolis, the percentage is closer to 60 percent, the Rays say.
Of course, all of this comes on the heals of the failed attempt to land a new stadium at the site of Al Lang Stadium along the St. Pete waterfront. And don’t think the Rays won’t remind everybody that the waterfront would have cost the taxpayers a lot less.
One reason the Rays originally pitched Al Lang Field as a new stadium site was because it was the cheapest option available, said Rays executive Michael Kalt…Cost estimates for the other sites do not exist, but comparatively, the Rays and others acknowledge they will be more expensive.
At this point, the Rays are waiting for A Baseball Community to conclude their study before moving forward with a specific plan. But the silence coming from the offices at Tropicana Field is deafening.
The Rays understand that they need to work with the community to find a solution that is best for everybody, but they are also not about to settle for something that doesn’t maximize the potential revenues for the team. Besides, we don’t get the impression that Stuart Sternberg is somebody that is just going to let somebody else tell him what is best for his business. And right now, all the decisions are being made by people outside the organization.
In the end, the more the city of St. Pete drags their feet, the closer they are coming to losing their one professional sports team to the city on the other side of the Bay.