Is there a private group working to secure land in the Channelside area of Tampa for a new Rays stadium? That’s what Bill Varian and Stephen Nohlgren of the St. Pete Times are hearing…
In another development, hints have surfaced that a private group is trying to assemble potential stadium land in downtown Tampa. Located just north of the St. Pete Times Forum, the site would be a tight squeeze for baseball but could piggy-back with nearby entertainment venues for parking.
When the owner of one piece of land in the Channelside area was asked if land was being purchased for a new stadium, he gave a very telling answer…
“Actually, I can’t talk about that.”
This comes on the heals of news that unlike the St. Pete city council, the Hillsborough County Commission would like to meet with the ABC group about their recommendations for a new Rays stadium. Still, they admit there is no money for a new stadium, even if they wanted to build one.
So who is buying the land? And what assurances do they have from the Rays that the team can and will move there?
The communication would have been off-the-record, and only through back channels and intermediaries, but it is safe to assume that these investors have spoken with the Rays. Whoever this group is, we can’t imagine they are buying land and preparing to build a stadium just on the hope that the Rays would one day call it home. That is just too much money to spend without some assurances.
One problem with the story is the size of the land that would be used to build the new stadium.
Combined with street vacations, the property could total 12 to 16 acres, comparable to St. Petersburg’s Al Lang Field, where the Rays pitched a waterfront stadium two years ago.
The issue not addressed is that the Al Lang site wasn’t big enough for the proposed stadium. A portion of the bay was to be filled in to accommodate the stadium. Still, we assume the investors already have an idea of how the new stadium would fit into the property.
Buying land in Tampa for a new stadium is just the first step. But it is a step. And we are beginning to wonder if a move to Tampa is no longer a question of “if” but a question of “when.”