The Tampa Bay Rays announced a plan to build an $892 million stadium in Ybor City on Tuesday.
Just a few hours after the plans were revealed at The Italian Club in historic Ybor, public figures and USF students spoke up about how the project can impact the community at USF.
Ed Narain, a Florida state representative who also served as USF’s student body president in 1997, offered a unique opinion for the Rays’ new stadium.
“The stadium has great potential as a community resource,” Narain said in a tweet. “And I can’t help but believe it is also ideal as the new home for @USFFootball.”
Narain suggested USF’s football team relocate to the new stadium, citing air conditioning and a brand new facility as benefits instead of staying at Raymond James Stadium.
For USF students, the potential new stadium means a shorter drive to baseball games. Instead of traveling to St. Petersburg for games at Tropicana Field, students near USF can make it to Ybor in less than 30 minutes.
“I absolutely think students will start going to more games,” Matthew Anoos, a junior majoring in microbiology said. “My roommates will, at least. They hate the fact that they’re called the Tampa Bay Rays and they’re located in St. Petersburg. Plus it’s kind of a drive for us.”
The impact on USF students does not stop there. Sylvie Altenor, a senior majoring in exercise science, thinks the Rays could get a lot of USF students to go to games if they promote it right.
“I think if there are more incentives and rewards at baseball games that college students can be a part of, that’d be great,” Altenor said. “Stuff like that could get them to want to go more.”
At the news conference, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said that promoting college-centered events in the new stadium is too far in the future for a comment.
Another student at USF is more concerned about the price tag that comes with the new ballpark. Nathaniel Sweet, a junior majoring in political science, noted some issues with paying for the stadium.
“I’m sure a lot of the funds are going to come from taxpayers and public funds,” Sweet said. “It is sometimes concerning when people use taxpayer dollars to pay for things like that because then it ends up being a way that people can essentially give gifts to their friends…So there are some ethics and accountability problems that you might see there.”
At the press conference, Rays and Tampa officials did not have answers for how the project will be funded.
One student who already finished his undergraduate experience thinks the new stadium will ultimately be good for students at USF.
“It will be especially good for younger students,” said Mario Garcia, a 2016 USF graduate. “Especially freshman students who just got here in the summer. It will give them something good to do.”