Why is it that as soon as a professional franchise mentions the words "new stadium", there are opposition groups banging down the doors of city hall? Anyone who has been to a game at Tropicana Field can attest to the fact that the Rays are like a novelty baseball franchise. We have an ownership group that is committed to building a winning team both on the field as well as off, but we have a population of complainers in this area that think the Rays should just play in the stadium that they have. I can give you countless reasons why this new stadium should be built, but somehow I believe that no matter how good the reasons, citizens who are opposed to this development will never change their mind.
The ownership group is investing in this team, even though you would not think this was the case if you listened to sports talk radio in this town the past few years. Stu Sternberg is a smart businessman and he does not just spend money for the sake of spending money. He has taken his time with this team, made prudent decisions on a personnel basis, and also made many improvements to the facilities. The renovations to the Trop in the past few years have made it a much more enjoyable experience to attend a ball game. Unfortunately, no matter how many improvements are made to the Trop, it will remain an outdated baseball stadium that was in need of replacement before the Rays ever took the field there.
Our new ownership group recognizes this situation, and instead of simply living with it they are trying to work out a suitable alternative to continuing to play there. Recently the plans for a new stadium on the downtown waterfront were unveiled and with that came the opposition groups. Citizens of St. Petersburg who think that they do not need the Rays and would be just fine without them. I hate to tell you St. Pete, YOU ARE WRONG!!!
This new stadium will bring increased tourism to the downtown area, which helps the restaurants, shops, hotels, and bars that we all love in the downtown area. The stadium is not an eyesore, it is more of an attraction to hold not only the Rays but also concerts, fireworks, college games, highschool tournaments, and who knows what else. The people against this project look at it as another pro team getting whatever they want at the cost of the taxpayers which usually is the case, but not in this situation.
The development of the new stadium is going to be largely funded by the redevelopment of the old stadium, which is definately an area that needs to be redeveloped. They are planning on putting up residential housing, hotels, retail stores, a movie theater, as well as many other components to the existing stadium grounds. Although all of this is in the planning stages, we as a community need to get behind the Rays and support their efforts in making not only their operations better, but making the city better at the same time.