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Tampa Bay business leaders support Rays split season Montreal plan | Letter
The leaders write in support of sharing the Rays but keeping them as part of Champa Bay in a new Ybor City outdoor park.
Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld makes the case for a split-season with Montreal before a  Ybor City audience last November.
Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld makes the case for a split-season with Montreal before a Ybor City audience last November. [ Charlie Frago ]
Published Jan. 8

Tampa Bay has emerged as one of the best sports regions in the country with the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays excelling in their respective leagues. “Champa Bay” is a hard-earned title, and one we cannot let slip away.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been in our community since 1995. They have excelled on the field, outperforming our market size, with the third most wins in Major League Baseball since 2008. Despite this remarkable success, attendance at Tropicana Field consistently ranks at the bottom of the sport.

The Rays want to stay in Tampa Bay, and we believe we should do what we can to save/keep the team in our region. We believe their Sister City Baseball plan with Montreal is a win-win-win for Tampa Bay, Major League Baseball and Montreal.

We endorse the leadership and membership of the three prominent regional chambers who supported this Sister City Baseball plan and the construction of an open-air neighborhood ballpark in Historic Ybor City. The site would serve as home not only for the Rays during the first portion of the season, as well as for half the postseason games, but also as home of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The new multi-use facility would be an economic development platform to host national sporting events, concerts and community gatherings, similar to the versatility of Amalie Arena. It would also help spark development in and around Ybor like replicating what other successful urban ballparks like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have done across the country.

After many years of analysis and conversations, the time has come to prioritize a new home for our Tampa Bay Rays on terms that the current market frames — a shared season in an intimate neighborhood venue, with the benefits of a lasting connection to Montreal and its fans who will come visit here and make Tampa Bay a destination of choice for tourism and commerce.

Signed,

Carlos Alfonso

CEO, Alliant Partners

Lee Arnold

Executive Chairman, Colliers Florida

Barney Barnett

Vice Chairman, Publix (Retired)

Richard Beard

President & Owner, R.A. Beard & Co

John Brabson

CEO, Lykes Insurance (Retired)

Chairman, Tampa General Hospital (Retired)

Blake Casper

CEO, Caspers Company

Gregory Celestan

CEO, Celestar Corporation

Joseph V. Chillura

Senior Executive Vice President, Valley Bank

Archie Collins

President & CEO, Tampa Electric

Brett Couch

Regional President, Regions Financial Corporation

John Couris

President & CEO, Tampa General Hospital

Thomas L. duPont

Chairman & Publisher, duPont Publishing

C. Samuel Ellison

Chairman, EWI Construction LLC

Maryann Ferenc

President & Owner, Mise en Place Hospitality Group

James L Ferman, Jr.

President & CEO, Ferman Automotive Management

Richard Gonzmart

President, Columbia Restaurant Group

Gary W. Harrod

Chairman & Founder, Harrod Properties

Oscar Horton

President & CEO, Sun State International Trucks LLC

Ken Jones

Chairman & CEO, Third Lake Partners

Fred Lynch

Operating Partner, AEA Investors

A.D. “Sandy” MacKinnon

CEO, ADM Family LTD

Allan S. Martin

Chairman, Atlantic Merchant Capital Investors

Roy J. McCraw, Jr.

Regional Chairman & President, Wachovia (Retired)

Stephen J. Mitchell

Senior Partner, Squire Patton Boggs

Harold W. Mullis

President Emeritus, Trenam Law

Tom Pepin

President & CEO, Pepin Distributing Company

John Ramil

President/CEO Retired, TECO Energy

Steve Raney

Chairman & CEO, Raymond James Bank

Gary L. Sasso

President & CEO, Carlton Fields

Kathleen Shanahan

CEO, Turtle & Hughes

Craig Sher

Chairman, Backstreets Capital

Hon. Alex Sink

State of Florida CFO (2007 – 2011)

Tready Smith

CEO & Founder, Bayshore Capital Advisors, LLC

Chris Sullivan

Partner, MVP Holdings

Chuck Sykes

President & CEO, Sykes Enterprises, Inc.

Troy D. Taylor

Chairman & CEO, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida

Ronald L. Vaughn, Ph.D.

The University of Tampa

Ron Wanek

Founder & Chairman, Ashley Furniture

Will Weatherford

Founder & Managing Partner, Weatherford Capital