The 2023 season for the Tampa Bay Rays was full of trials and tribulations. They lost three starting pitchers from their Opening Day roster to season-ending injuries that will likely keep them out all of next season. They were dealt a massive blow with the ongoing Wander Franco situation. The Baltimore Orioles surpassed them for the division crown, and they were unceremoniously decimated by the eventual World Series Champion Texas Rangers in the Wild Card round.
However, to linger on the team's shortcomings and misfortunes ignores the great things that happened for the Rays last season and the great things that are coming. As we in the United States kick off our holiday season with Thanksgiving, I want to take some time and celebrate what we have to be thankful for as Rays fans. While these things may appear small in the grand scheme of life, it's what makes me optimistic that the best is yet to come for the Tampa Bay Rays.
A new stadium is in the works
Tropicana Field has been the site of a few significant events in the last 15 years. Akinori Iwamura's leap after clinching the AL Pennant in 2008 and Evan Longoria's walk-off home run in Game 162 to clinch a Wild Card spot in 2011 stand out as two of the biggest moments. However, attendance numbers have rarely been good for the Rays. They had the lowest-attended postseason game in 104 years this past October, and they had the fourth-lowest home attendance during the regular season. Fans have been clamoring for a new stadium for years amid rumors of the team looking at a potential St. Petersburg-Montreal split.
In September, Rays fans finally got their wish. The team announced a $1.3 billion plan to build a new ballpark on the same lot where The Trop currently stands. The new stadium would hold 30,000 seats and isn't expected to open until 2028. The drawings of what the stadium could look like are breathtaking. Most importantly, it would keep the Rays in the area for the foreseeable future. It was exciting news, and it will hopefully result in attendance numbers skyrocketing.