The Rays should hold off on new stadium plans

A study conducted at USF for the ABC Coalition compared the merits of various locations for the proposed construction of the Tampa Bay Rays’ new baseball stadium. The ABC Coalition, a community organization that has published several studies on this issue, is part of a concerted effort to keep the Rays in the Tampa Bay area.

The Rays have been looking for a new stadium for some time now and are no longer satisfied with the outdated Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. In game attendance, the Rays rank 22nd out of 30 major league teams – an obvious sign that the team needs more modern facilities.

Though a new field could reinvigorate the baseball team and local businesses, this is not the time for any definite decisions. Many favor keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg, while others want them in Tampa, which means the debate over where to put a new stadium could boil down to a tug-of-war between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

The study looked at projected populations and the number of businesses in five areas around the Bay. It found that the three most promising locations were downtown Tampa and the West Shore area in Hillsborough County and the Gateway area in Pinellas County. The Gateway area was an appealing candidate because it would keep the Rays in the same county while moving them closer to Tampa.

Though it should not happen anytime soon, the construction of a new stadium seems inevitable. Another study done by the ABC Coalition projected the cost of renovating the old stadium at $471 million, which is possibly more than a new stadium would cost. According to the Tampa Tribune, a plan to build a waterfront stadium would only cost $450 million.

Though cheaper than renovation, a new modern stadium is too costly to consider in this economy, no matter how it would be financed. Until the economy recovers enough to support such a large expenditure, the Rays will simply have to make do with what they’ve got.