Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Sports Authority's long-term plan contemplates baseball stadium

TAMPA — A strategic plan being drafted by Hills­borough County's main sports governing agency contemplates it playing a role in development of a new baseball stadium.

Officials with the Tampa Sports Authority say the agency is simply making sure it is prepared for anything that may come its way in the future. They say they are not and won't be making a pitch for any new stadiums.

"It says, 'If asked, we stand ready to do whatever is necessary, whether it's baseball, soccer, tennis, other golf courses,' " Sports Authority spokeswoman Barbara Casey said. "It has absolutely no plan for anything to build a stadium or be involved with it — nor soccer or tennis or golf."

The plan is being crafted against the backdrop of an ongoing regional discussion about the future of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, whose owners have been agitating for a new stadium. A report issued earlier this year by the ABC Coalition, a civic group, found that the team needs a new stadium to remain financially viable and recommended possible locations, including three in Hillsborough.

News reports have detailed two efforts in Hillsborough County to prepare possible sites for a baseball stadium should the team look to exit St. Petersburg. The resulting discussions have drawn some pushback from officials with the city of St. Petersburg, which has a contract with the team to play at Tropicana Field through 2027.

Sports Authority executive director Eric Hart, who recently took over the post, said the timing of his agency's work on a strategic plan and the ongoing baseball stadium dialogue is coincidental. He said the TSA is required to prepare a long-range plan periodically for the state Legislature.

The Sports Authority developed and runs Raymond James Stadium and runs three Tampa-owned golf courses. It also serves as landlord for the St. Pete Times Forum and Steinbrenner Field.

Hart's plan calls for coming up with a strategy for keeping up the existing arenas while being on the lookout for possibilities that would enhance residents' quality of life and perhaps bring in money. Mention of a new baseball stadium in the report is simply a nod to the ongoing discussion, not a bid, he said.

"People are trying to make more of it and connect dots that aren't there," Hart said. "We're not promoting that in any way."

St. Petersburg City Attorney John Wolfe said he is tracking any plan that might lure the Rays away from Tropicana Field. But he hasn't seen the TSA plan.

"We'll have to see exactly what they're doing. I'd have to see the details of what they're planning and who they have contacted before I could comment."

In addition to a possible baseball stadium, the plan contemplates a new soccer venue for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and possibly managing other golf courses or developing driving ranges. Construction of a multiuse sports complex in the West Shore area, which is being studied by tourism promoters, and working with other groups to develop a tennis complex are also mentioned.

"We're keeping our eyes open for an opportunity that may be available down the road," said Tony Muniz, a member of the Sports Authority governing board who serves on the long-range planning committee. "Whether it be golf, tennis, soccer — or baseball."

Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at or (813) 226-3387.

Tampa Sports Authority's long-term plan contemplates baseball stadium 05/11/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 8:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Cal Foote said he was so young when his father, Adam, played in the NHL, he didn't remember their hug in the Avalanche's dressing room during the 2001 Stanley Cup celebration.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.