TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays' planned move to Ybor City is dead, at least for now.
During a press conference in Las Vegas during the winter meetings, team owner Stu Sternberg rejected the framework put forward by Hillsborough County last week. It would have required the team to pay for half of the $900-million stadium.
The team says it is now focused on finding a new location in the Bay Area by the time the lease at the Trop runs out in 2027.
"The deal will probably die two or three times before an agreement," said lead county negotiator Ken Hagan.
The Rays said the framework was short on details over site control, commitments from private investors, and whether politicians will even back the plan.
"The result certainly wasn't due to lack of effort from any of the parties," said Sternberg. "While I am wildly disappointed in the result, I am not discouraged."
Is this the end of the team's effort to build in Ybor? Not necessarily.
"I can not help but think this might be a little posturing on the team's part," said Hagan. "But the reality is I do understand they do not have the comfort they need."
Hagan says they will beef up the financing plan with more detail, especially on private opportunity zone commitments. County officials still insist the Ybor City site is the only that gives the team everything they want.
"The team will reassess things on their end, I think in the near future, we will be back sitting down again," said Hagan.
The team is pledging to again look all over Tampa Bay, acknowledging the end of the 2027 season may be the only firm deadline: When the lease on the Trop expires.
The man tasked with getting corporate support for an Ybor City stadium, Ron Christaldi of Rays 2020, also insists the Rays will be convinced to try again.
"I do not believe that anyone has announced we have exhausted all financial models and we couldn't get there. The issue is really a timing issue," he said. "We may have blown that deadline, but it doesn't mean that Ybor 2024 doesn't have hope."
For the Rays to go back to Ybor they would then have to get further accommodation from the city of St. Petersburg.
Mayor Rick Kriseman said he would be willing to discuss that, adding St. Pete will move forward on redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site -- both with and without a stadium.