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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Rays Pressing For Quick Approval Of Stadium Deal

  • MLB club looks to stay on schedule for projected 2028 ballpark opening
  • Royals, Kansas City leaders grapple with rising angst over potential stadium deal
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

With a long-awaited stadium deal now in place, the Tampa Bay Rays are pushing to start construction as soon as possible.

Appearing before the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday, Rays co-president Brian Auld said the club aims to obtain all needed government approvals by March 2024 in order to preserve the planned spring 2028 opening of the new $1.3 billion ballpark.

“If we miss that opening date, this entire endeavor becomes impossible,” Auld said. “We cannot put these dates at risk along the way.”

The ballpark will be the centerpiece of a planned $6.5 billion, 86-acre mixed-use development in St. Petersburg’s Gas Plant District. The Rays will pay $700 million toward the stadium, as well as any cost overruns, while the public sector will contribute $600 million. 

The stadium project presents a key test of the Rays’ ability to draw fans, particularly following historically low attendance totals during the club’s brief playoff run this season.

Royals Angst

Another lower-revenue MLB club seeks to transform its situation with a new ballpark — but the Kansas City Royals are again in the crosshairs of local angst surrounding planned public-sector contribution toward their proposed $2 billion new stadium. 

After Jackson County, Missouri, executive Frank White was given a 48-hour deadline to respond to the Royals’ latest term-sheet offer, a memo obtained by the Kansas City Star suggested the stadium will actually cost between $4.4 billion and $6.4 billion — much of it shouldered by taxpayers when including interest and insurance costs.

That report quickly generated a public rebuke from Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas.

“Nothing I have ever seen about a new Royals stadium even remotely suggests the cost will be between $4 billion and $6 billion,” Lucas posted on X. “That would place it as one of the most expensive stadiums ever built in the history of the U.S. There are many reasons not to like a deal, but good-faith negotiations should be expected on the community’s behalf. I’m seeing anything but.”

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