A proposed ballpark in Orlando could host a new MLB team, but it might try to lure an existing one instead.
Pat Williams, a co-founder of the Orlando Magic, is pitching a $1.7 billion stadium as a potential landing spot for the Tampa Bay Rays if they can’t strike a deal to stay in St. Petersburg.
His vision, whether for a new MLB team or the Rays, includes a 45,000-seat stadium with retail shops, restaurants, office space, three hotel towers, and a convention center. Williams’ proposal has the development situated on 35 acres of land owned by Orange County.
The site is “6 miles from Disney, 6 miles from Universal. We’re very bullish on these 80 million tourists that will come through here this year,” Williams told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “And by the time we might start playing, say in 2028, we’re probably going to be at 100 million tourists.”
Williams speculated that a team in Orlando could draw 3 million fans per season, including 2 million tourists. That would place them near the top of the league: The San Diego Padres drew the fifth-most fans in MLB last year with just under 3 million over 81 home games.
Meanwhile, the Rays continue to negotiate with St. Petersburg after the city picked the team’s proposed ballpark design earlier this year. The two sides still need to come to terms on a $1.2 billion funding plan.
The Rays haven’t committed to staying in the city without a full agreement.