Is it too late to build a stadium in Tampa?


Not long after the Rays submitted their proposal to St. Pete, there were reports that the team was also looking into Tampa’s location along the Ybor Canal, bringing back long-awaited hope among Rays fans at Water Front Stadium in the downtown area.


This waterfront location in downtown Tampa was once an active shipyard, which we wrote about as a potential site in 2016. To refresh your memory, we thought it unlikely that the shipyard would be moved, and noted some other defects of the site, namely its configuration and its isolation from both Channelside and Ybor.

Since then, Ybor developer Daryl Shaw has bought the land, and most of the surrounding land, which shows how little we know about real estate or shipbuilding; Actually the shipyard moves.

At least in theory such a site could be available, and the Rays have been intrigued by a stadium setup through leading stadium design firm Populous, shown above, pictured first obtained by the Tampa Bay Business Journal via a request for information General.

We can imagine a playground could be an attractive use of this site if you were Darrell Shaw; However, the lack of easy access to other parts of the city – would make this place difficult and expensive to develop housing or other types of businesses from the jump. However, a playground can be magnet enough to build a waterside activity node around it.

Decisive, This article is the Tampa Bay Times notes that there There is no stadium proposal under considerationThe Rays have not had any serious conversations about this site with city or county officials.

There is a lot, then, that needs to happen for this site to be in contention.

First, Daryl Shaw must be interested in selling it, or partnering with the Rays to act as developer of the stadium and its surrounding amenities. What would make this attractive to him? Will a Rays ownership stake be on his shopping list? does sternberg, Which had some issues to get ownership from minority shareholdersWould you be willing to give up a piece of the team to get Tampa Stadium?

Then, public officials will need to be on board with a number of things. I assume the site needs to be re-zoned, and I assume there will be a lot of public infrastructure investment needed to make this site viable. Will the city of Tampa be supportive enough of this project to move land use changes and capital investments fast enough to build a stadium by 2028?

And that doesn’t even touch on financing for the stadium itself, which we know is likely close to $1 billion. We know that St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have some resources they can tap into without pushing too hard. These include the Pinellas Tourist Development Tax, which helped build the Tropicana field, and expected redevelopment benefits from the larger site redevelopment, which can be obtained through district tax increase financing.

But the same funding sources are more limited on the Hillsborough side of the bay. Pinellas County, thanks to its beaches, gets a lot more hotel tax money than Hillsboro ($72.5 million in 2021 compared to $36.9 million), and Hillsboro County also has big commitments to the Convention Center, Amalie Arena, Raymond James Stadium, and (SUP) Steinbrenner Field . It is not clear what they will have available for the baseball field.

As for creating a tax increase funding district, well, the district is already in one. The Channelside Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) includes the western side of the Ybor Canal District:


Would the city council, which oversees all CRA organizations, want to use CRA funds, which have helped build the infrastructure for the massive new construction found throughout the Channelside area, largely in this new area? Is there enough potential for development along the canal to make good use of public dollars? And could the region extend to the unexpected opportunities on the northeast side of the water?

Finally, even if all of those parts came together—city endorsements, city funds, county funds—how long would it take?

Pete County/Pinellas County will at some point require a full Ray commitment before moving forward with its plans. They won’t let the Rays drag this operation while the team tests the waters in Tampa. It’s entirely possible, then, that the team will need to move forward with the redevelopment of St. Pete’s before they can have any sort of assurance that Ybor Canal Stadium is a possibility.

I have little doubt that a stadium on the Tampa side of the bay will attract more attendance and corporate support than we likely see in St. Pete.

However, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have the means and willingness to provide significant financial support for the stadium. It’s unlikely Mayor Welch will wait any longer while the Rays see if they can make things work in Hillsborough County.

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