Rays Could Look Outside Downtown Tampa For New Ballpark With Troubles Continuing
It is proving "harder than expected to put together the land needed" for a Rays ballpark near downtown Tampa, and now local officials are "exploring another option" on Tampa's west side, according to Steve Contorno of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. But even if all the pieces come together, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that he is "less confident than ever that the county and Rays ownership can come to an agreement on how to pay for a ballpark that would lure the team from St. Petersburg." Hagan said, "This has been an extremely challenging and frustrating process that in my opinion shouldn't be this difficult of a task." Contorno noted some landowners in the Channel District-Ybor City region -- for months the focal point of the Tampa ballpark site search -- are so far "unmoved by offers from Hillsborough County to acquire their property." Hagan said that the "thorny negotiations put in peril two coveted locations in that area." West Shore, the coastal community on Tampa's west side, was "previously considered and a consultant study once noted its appeal." Fans in St. Petersburg also "wouldn't have to drive as far as they would to a downtown Tampa ballpark, and it is close to the kind of corporate clients and support the Rays desperately crave." However, "broadening the hunt at this point" can only be seen as a "step backward for an effort many hoped would have been wrapped up by now." Contorno noted the "window for the Rays search closes" in January '19 (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/14).