First reported from Tom Krasniqi, 95.3 WDAE Radio Co-Host on the "Ronnie & T-Kras" show, the Rays are looking at a new area to possibly call home. In the tweet, Krasniqi states "BREAKING: Sources confirms me the Fairgrounds area is the location being explored by the #Rays & county officials as a possible site for a stadium. Exploratory state. @953WDAE."
This report comes merely hours after Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg held a press conference on the future of the Tropicana Field land and the plans of redevelopment that is being planned to take place in the coming years.
Welch in the press conference brought about the "Rays involvement in the plans and the directly related question of including a stadium" in these plans with him stating "as our counsel accurately stated last year, the question of the Rays is critical to developing the right plan of development of these 86 acres."
From the general consensus from the press conference, Mayor Welch consistently stated he was "optimistic" with where the relationship was between the Rays and St. Petersburg for the development, however with the recent news about the Fairgrounds site, you wonder where does ground stand between the city and the Rays.
Over the years it has felt like a tug of war game between cities, as both St. Petersburg and Tampa have tried to claim to the team in hopes to keep them in the area. From Ybor City to a sister-city plan to even keeping them in St. Pete, there have been multiple options brought up, with each one so far not coming into fruition yet.
If the Rays end up deciding on the Fairgrounds, this would be the third Tampa Bay pro team to call the Fairgrounds, as the Tampa Bay Lightning & Tampa Bay Rowdies both were tenants at the venue previously. The Fairgrounds site is still used for concerts and events though, with the MidFlorida Credit Union Ampitheater hosting events and the surrounding land.
With that being said, the clock is ticking it seems with the Rays to figure out a plan. Just a few weeks ago, Ronald Blum, writer from Yahoo Sports, stated in an article that Manfred says, "the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A's need to reach new ballpark soon and left open the possibility of considering relocation."
With the St. Pete development, it may allow the Rays to have a presence around the park, similar to The Battery in Atlanta or Texas Live! in Arlington, making for a great gameday experience but Tampa brings the team closer to more people and may attract more fans to the game. Only time will tell as Mayor Welch plans on making a decision on the plan "by the end of the year" he states.