Fundraising group launches for Rays' new stadium

- The drive to build a new stadium for the Rays in Ybor City is taking another step forward.

A launch party was held Wednesday night to show off the people who will raise millions of dollars to supplement what the Rays put forward.

"It is really about making sure we have ambassadors throughout the community that are talking about the importance of building this gathering place, this ballpark," said Mike Griggin, the new chair of the Rays 100 group.

Rays 100 is a group of ambassadors for the Rays' 2020 pitch to build a stadium at Channelside and Adamo. 

Their roster is filled with bankers, lawyers, real estate agents and commerce groups. 

Their goal is to raise $40 million a year, a sign to the Rays that if they build a stadium, they can depend on corporate money, money beyond tickets and tee shirts.

"Our goal is to drive support to the Rays so the amount of money they can put in is greater and greater," said Ron Christaldi, the co-chair of Rays 2020. "What you are seeing is the momentum we have created already has caused the Rays to up what they can put in by way of private investment."

Last week, the Rays owner said they would put up half the money for the $800 million stadium. 

While a stadium is designed, government officials will plan with rays executives on any public financing. 

"Certainly the business community is the one picking up the ball and running with it," said Griffin. "But we have to get to the Little Leagues, the neighborhood associations, this is almost like a little bit of a campaign."

The list of organizations linked to the 100 ambassadors includes TECO, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Hillsborough Hotel Motel Association, PNC, Carmine's Restaurant, Tampa Bay Times, Blue Cross Blue Shield, AT&T, Lion's Eye Institute, Hillsborough County Public Schools, WSF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, Florida Hospital, Moffitt Lobbyist/USF Alumni Association, NAACP, GTE Financial, and the Florida Aquarium.

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