Lingering questions about the Tampa Bay Rays’ possible stadium deal
Transportation? Prices? Hot dogs? A columnist asks crucial follow-ups as a potential deal looms.
An artist rendering of the Tampa Bay Rays' proposed stadium design for the Tropicana Field site.
An artist rendering of the Tampa Bay Rays' proposed stadium design for the Tropicana Field site. [ Courtesy of Gensler ]
Published Sept. 19|Updated Sept. 19

OK, but honestly? Seriously?

No, for real. We’re done here?

Have you, the Tampa Bay Rays, after 16 wearisome years of negotiations and a will-they-won’t-they energy last embodied by TV’s Ross and Rachel, actually reached a deal to build a new stadium in downtown St. Petersburg for the 2028 season?

Wait, was that a wink? Oh, just a dust particle from “construction.” OK. Mmhmm. Sure.

Like, in two months, will you guys be all, “Just kidding, ha! We’re actually exploring an agreement that would split the team into equal sixteenths among a variety of interested states, countries and territories, with Florida keeping two sixteenths in a gesture of goodwill and nostalgia. Additionally, one sixteenth of the team will be sent to Siberia in a nod toward temperature diversity”?

Just as we’ve moved on, will a story materialize about a wealthy sock industry magnate proposing a new stadium inside a former Manatee County Stein Mart currently used to house a Spirit Halloween?

Has anyone checked on Tropicana orange juice? Can someone text them? Just “thinking of you xoxo no need to reply” would be nice.

In the renderings of the proposed complex, the artificial intelligence cartoon people appear to be having a great time. How can real people be guaranteed a great time? Will Raymond wander charmingly through the complex, bringing joy to the hearts of fans hanging off their pristine Swedish minimalist balconies? Ugh, is there going to be an Urban Outfitters? An overpriced smoothie bowl place? Please, will there be any kind of coworking space with a mini fridge full of IPAs stationed near a cursive neon display that says “put me in coach” without proper punctuation? Will the sun cast a romantic lens flare upon a sports-loving couple taking a selfie, a couple who has definitely not driven 48 minutes in stop-and-go traffic, arguing the whole way about one member of the party’s propensity to brake hard?

While we’re at it: Now that you’re allegedly solid on a stadium plan, any chance you influential government and money types could get together over $16 beers and footlong tater tots to make a little something-something happen in the realm of public transportation? You do realize that Tampa Bay is still spread out like the 13,000 planets in the “Dune” universe and that drivers don’t always have enough good Audible books on hand to justify sitting in I-275 traffic in rush hour to get to, say, a 6:40 p.m. Tuesday game? Please, could you fold into the plan some kind of beeline monorail that gets folks from one side of this panoply of godforsaken beige urban sprawl to the other without setting foot inside a 2009 Toyota Camry loaded with gas that cost $3.44 a gallon? Is the floor open for brainstorming? We could call it ... “THE STINGER.” Or... “THE STERNBERG SUPERHIGHWAY SLAMMER.” Maybe? Possibly?

With a fresh start afoot, can you reconsider the snack station ordering system? It currently works as follows: Customer approaches register. Employee points customer to computer. Computer ejects receipt. Employee asks customer for receipt. Employee hands food to customer. Can we agree that all you’ve done is turn the computer around to face the customer and not the employee? Please, can you hear us begging?

Speaking of ordering, have you considered that attendance might be more robust if you examined your pricing structures? Do you know an average family spends significant pay to not only park and enter the game, but to then eat hot dogs and commodity nachos? Have you ever charged a small order of cookies and cream Dippin’ Dots to a rewards Visa with 24% interest in the name of enjoying the simplicity and wholesomeness of America’s Favorite Pastime? Did you know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in Tampa Bay had an average hourly wage of $27.64 in 2022, 7% below the nationwide average? Given that knowledge, as you renovate your digs and endeavor to attract a growing and enthusiastic fan base, might you see fit to throw in free a sprinkling of garlic salt on our fries?

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Finally, is the 50/50 raffle real? Because some of us are getting discouraged. Please advise?

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