Price tag dampens excitement for new Rays stadium

A day after the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled designs for a potential new ballpark in Ybor City, questions emerged about who would pay the hefty price tag of nearly $900 million.

During the announcement and following interviews, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was vague about how much he would be willing to commit, although reports indicate he would consider paying about $150 million out of his own pocket.

The team estimates the ballpark would cost $809 million, with an additional $83 million needed to renovate the surrounding area.

That leaves a gap that would largely have to be filled by corporate sponsors.

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Steve Bernstein said finding financing options will take some creativity.

"It's about reaching out to stakeholders throughout the community, pooling our expertise, pooling our resources, thinking beyond traditional sources for funding, which are often public," Bernstein said.

Leaders in Tampa and Hillsborough County have said they don't want to raise taxes to pay for the construction of a new stadium.

Ron Christaldi helped create the Rays 2020 group. He's among those spearheading the campaign to find funding.

Christaldi told FOX 13, during the last few months, the group has been in serious discussions with three companies about naming rights on a new stadium. He also said a number of business leaders have indicated a willingness to commit between half a million to $2.5 million a year for five years.

Bernstein believes others will step up to the plate.

"It really is a real-life Field of Dreams opportunity for this region," he said.

Neighbors and business owners in Ybor are split about whether they feel a new ballpark is worth the cost.

"I'm hoping someone else is going to pay for it and not us people that live here, but more the people that are investing into baseball and watching it and making it happen," said Jill Wax, who has owned La France in Ybor for 44 years, adding she's optimistic about the stadium despite her concerns. "I'm very excited. We've always wanted more people to walk in the area."

"I honestly wouldn't mind paying a little bit more," said Dawn Adams, who lives across the street from the proposed site of the future ballpark. "I'm a big sports fan. I love going to sporting events. So to have this a lot closer to me that it would be more feasible for me to go to more games, then I would be willing."

Following the design reveal, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn compared the presentation to a first date but said if the numbers don't make sense, the city and county need to be willing to walk away.