Rays executives are still considering Oldsmar as a possible location for a new Major League Baseball stadium, according to Mayor Doug Bevis.
- Oldsmar still in running for potential Rays stadium site
- Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis has met with team
- Rays say they hope to pick a site in about five months
- Previous stories on Rays stadium search
“I would say that we’re still in the running and I think we have a site that offers things that some of the other sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas don’t offer,” Bevis said. “Which is the size of it and the proximity to Hillsborough County.”
Last Tuesday, Mayor Bevis met with Rays president Brian Auld and senior vice president of strategy and development Melanie Lenz. Bevis said the Rays executives acknowledged they wouldn’t waste his time if Oldsmar wasn’t still being considered.
“The one thing that we did both agree on is that both our times are valuable,” he said. “They wouldn’t call a meeting… to tell us that they’re breaking up with us.”
The Oldsmar site is 120 acres located near the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack and has one landowner. The city released renderings of what a new stadium along with retail, office and residential development would look like on the property, last October.
“I think we have within a 30 minute drive time, we have 1.3 million people, with an average household income of $65,000,” Bevis said. “I think the fact that we could get joint funding, potentially, from both Hillsborough and Pinellas County. I think that’s very attractive.”
Oldsmar is one of many municipalities trying to lure the Rays. According to Commissioner Ken Hagan, the Hillsborough Working Group represents Tampa and County leaders who are scheduled to have a formal meeting with the Rays at the end of this month. Hagan said they’ve had on-going financial talks with the Rays and hope to go public with a potential site in a few months.
Ben Kirby, the spokesman for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, said the city has no formal meetings planned with the Rays but the “mayor does talk with them occasionally.” The Rays have a contract with the city of St. Petersburg to lease Tropicana Field until 2027. The Rays have an agreement that allows them to look for stadium sites outside the city but will have to pay a fee if they break the lease early.
Bevis said another positive clue for Oldsmar was seeing a Christmas card featuring the city leaders in Rays baseball caps in an executive office at the Trop.
“Brian brought it up, ‘did you see what’s on the table?’ And I think Melanie said, ‘yeah, as you noticed it’s the only card that’s on the table,’” Bevis said. “So, it’s not like it was planted there but it was kind of neat to see.”
Bevis said last October, the Rays told him they were hoping to pick a site in about five months.
“What they don’t want to do is get into a decision and feel pressured like the Marlins did,” he said.