Rays ‘Here To Stay’ In Tampa Area After Striking Deal For New, $1.3 Billion Stadium


Years of speculation about whether the Tampa Bay Rays would leave the area when the team’s lease at Tropicana Field ends in 2027 have seemingly been settled by a deal between the team and local governments to build a new, $1.3 billion stadium in St. Petersburg.

Key Facts

The team on Tuesday said it is “here to stay” after striking a deal to build a 30,000-seat stadium as part of a multi-billion-dollar mixed use development in the Historic Gas Plant District of St. Petersburg, on the same site as its current ballpark.

The Rays will pay for more than half of the new stadium but the deal is contingent on if the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County each agree to spend a total of $600 million in taxpayer money on the project, which team president Brian Auld told the Tampa Bay Times the mayor and the county administrator have agreed to, though final votes have not been taken.

The stadium, which has not been named, would have what the team called state-of-the-art amenities for fans and players, air conditioning, an artificial turf field and a pavilion-style fixed roof—the team says construction would be finished by Opening Day 2028.

The field and two parking garages will take up between 15 and 20 acres of a planned 86-acre development that could include an African-American history museum, office space, medical space, 5,400 residential units, at least one hotel and a conference center.

Key Background

The Tampa Bay Rays have a troubled history with its ballpark. Tropicana Field has been the team’s home since its inaugural season in 1998 and is the only non-retractable domed stadium in Major League Baseball. There have been multiple attempts to replace the stadium, including a 2007 project that would have built a new ballpark on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg before the concept was ultimately abandoned, and a 2018 proposal would have replaced Tropicana Field with a proposed baseball park in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa in time for the 2023 season, but that project was also canceled. In the two decades spent searching for a new home, moving the team was floated several times, including a plan that would have split home games between Tampa and Montreal that never got MLB approval. It was also floated that the Rays move to Orlando.


The Rays have long had attendance problems that have some questioning if rebuilding in the exact same place is a smart move. The Rays have averaged between 13,500 and 19,000 fans at home games since 2013, excluding 2020 and 2021 as pandemic years. Those numbers are well below the league average per home game of between 28,000 and 33,000, according to the Tampa Bay Times. On Tuesday, the team’s president said the Rays are banking on a recent building boom and influx of new residents in St. Petersburg to boost attendance numbers.

Crucial Quote

“One of the things I’ve said multiple times is we’re in the same location as we were five years ago, but I really do feel like we’re in a different city,” Auld said.

Surprising Fact

The new Rays stadium will be the first new professional baseball stadium since 2020. Only five new MLB ballparks have been built since 2009: Yankee Stadium in New York City, Target Field in Minnesota, IoanDepot Park in Miami, Truist Park in Atlanta and Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers.

Forbes Valuation

The Tampa Bay Rays ranked at No. 26 out of 30 of Forbes‘ list of baseball’s most valuable teams this year. The Rays are estimated to be worth $1.2 billion, a 14% increase over last year.

Further Reading

Rays confident of closing deal for $1.3B downtown St. Petersburg stadium (Tampa Bay Times)

Baseball’s Most Valuable Teams 2023 (Forbes)

Groundbreaking Report On MLB Shows Baseball’s Incredible Value For Advertisers (Forbes)

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