TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Rays are looking for a new stadium location. Team President Brian Auld sat down with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and County Commissioner Ken Hagan on Friday to talk about the future.
The meeting marked the first official discussion since St. Petersburg city leaders voted to allow the team to look outside of their city for a new location.
“I’m optimistic. I think this is a point at which we start this relationship. It’s a point where we understand what the Rays are interested in,” Buckhorn said.
The decisions about stadium location and design are far from certain.
The team presented a list of criteria for Hillsborough elected officials to consider. The Rays are looking for a location that will connect the region and be accessible from major roads. The team says the site should be approximately 20 acres but didn’t indicate specific location preferences.
Ken Hagan maintains funding for any new stadium must come primarily from the team. “Any stadium deal is going to have to be primarily funded by the team and the private sector. The paradigm has changed. Years ago when we built Raymond James Stadium those were the days of 100 percent publicly financed stadiums. Those days are long gone,” Hagan said.
Buckhorn said the top priority is keeping the team in the Tampa Bay area.
“I think for all of us first and foremost, it’s keeping the Rays in the region. Secondly, from a Hillsborough perspective, for the commissioner and I, it’s important that it works, but it’s not just the building; it’s everything that goes on around the building. It’s the ability to connect it with mass transit. It’s how it fits into the urban core potentially,” he said.
Auld said the Rays have no intention of leaving the area. “This is our home. This is where families live. This is where we want to be,” he said.
Still, the team has high expectations for a new facility.
“We want it to be representative of Tampa Bay and we want it to be iconic. We want this to be the building that shows up on the post cards when you come to visit Tampa Bay,” Auld said.READ MORE ABOUT THE RAYS:
- St. Pete votes to allow Rays to pursue stadium options in Hillsborough
- St. Petersburg mayor releases new Rays deal
- Plan allows Rays to look in Hillsborough County