ST. PETERSBURG — What Tampa Bay Rays’ leadership will announce at the team’s waterfront news conference this afternoon is anybody’s guess.
They are likely to double down on the plan Major League Baseball gave them permission to explore: splitting home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal. It’s a proposal that local leaders from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to Pinellas County commissioners don’t love.
What other news they may break is unclear.
Will the team announce it’d like to renovate historic Al Lang Stadium along the St. Petersburg waterfront? The team, which owns the stadium’s primary tenant, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, already operates that facility. Will team leadership say they want another chance to explore options in Hillsborough County? Will they take a new stadium at Tropicana Field off the table?
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At this point, only the Rays know. But here’s what we do know: the news conference is being held inside the Salvador Dali Museum, one-tenth of a mile from Al Lang Stadium and one of the closest places along the waterfront to hold a news conference indoors — after all, it’s scheduled for 1 p.m.
Second, Kriseman won’t be there.
He’ll be having lunch with Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor instead.
Kriseman was one of the major players in getting a three-year window for the Rays to explore stadium options in Hillsborough County. But since that window closed at the new year, he has said the conversation should focus on St. Petersburg.
What’s more, Kriseman believes the best option in town remains the 86-acre Trop site. The city is planning to develop that area in the coming decade and has left room for a new stadium, should the team decide to double down on the area. That said, it’s unclear how much public financing will be available for a new stadium if the team clings to the split-season model.
So maybe the Rays won’t ask for a new stadium. Maybe they’ll ask for a more modest investment into Al Lang Stadium for 40 home games a year.
Whatever the announcement, the mayor won’t be there to hear it.
Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or email@example.com. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.