The Tampa Bay Rays may finally be taking the next step in their seemingly eternal efforts to secure a new ballpark. According to Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays on Friday are expected to announce their intention to relocate to Tampa. The Rays have played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since their inception.
Specifically, the Rays are expected to announce plans to pursue a new ballpark near the Channel District of Ybor City, roughly 20 miles from the team's current location.
"This is a major step," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who heard directly from the team. "I'm hopeful this will continue to build momentum on our effort to bring the Tampa Bay Rays to Ybor. Tomorrow's announcement will go a long way toward that, and I imagine at some point in the near future they'll announce their ballpark design."
Contorno's story has more, including some specifics regarding a potential ballpark site.
Tropicana Field has increasingly come to be viewed as an undesirable venue for baseball, and the Rays have consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in attendance, despite occasional success in the standings.
Of course, selection of a site is but an initial step. Funding for ballpark construction must be secured, and since teams generally refuse to pay for their own places of business, that will likely entail some back and forth with elected officials.