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Volume 24 No. 117
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Hillsborough Officials Hone In On Rays Ballpark Site, Could Make Announcement Soon

Hillsborough County (Fla.) officials trying to lure the Rays across the bay from St. Petersburg are "aggressively working to secure a site for a ballpark in the Channel District-Ybor City area, and hope to make an announcement soon," according to Steve Contorno of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Hillsborough County and its lawyers have had "dozens of conversations this year with the Rays, its financing team at Goldman Sachs and Populous, the architect for the new ballpark." They have "discussed financing options, reviewed sites and compared economic development proposals." Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that more recently, they have "spoken with land owners about assembling a package of parcels that can fit a ballpark." They are also looking to the Braves for "ideas on how to pay for it." At the same time, direct talks with the Rays front office "have slowed." There is also "lingering frustration the team has not demonstrated enough urgency in its search for a new ballpark." Hagan said, "The team has been arguing for a new home for eight-plus years. It doesn't need to take years to create the partnership required for a new ballpark, but it does take leadership at the ownership level to get us across the finish line." As recently as late July, Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said that the team was "waiting for Tampa and Hillsborough County to present a viable option and challenged them to 'completely weigh in.'" Sternberg: "When they do then we'll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/21).