Pasco County is set to receive $35 million to start construction on a sports training complex — a future site for the Tampa Bay Rays spring training — with funding granted by the Senate’s “sprinkle list.”
The funding, detailed in a request from Sen. Danny Burgess, would be used for planning and construction of a “sports training and youth tournament complex.” While the facilities would be used for youth sports tournaments and other programs throughout the year, it also would serve as a spring training center for the Tampa Bay Rays. The team currently leases a facility in Port Charlotte, but that agreement expires in 2028.
“It is anticipated that the complex facility will be publicly owned and some of the facilities will be leased for use at various times throughout the year as part of a management and operating agreement,” the request says.
The funding likely is a priority of Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is based in Pasco County. The project is set to include several full-size practice fields, one stadium field with lighting and spectator facilities, team clubhouse and locker room facilities, indoor and outdoor training facilities, kitchen and dining facilities and player housing, according to the request.
The site also would have parking, a roadway entrance and exit, stormwater improvements and other associated infrastructure upgrades.
The project also is hoping to provide other entertainment events to benefit the larger community, most directly the tourism and hospitality industries, according to the request.
While Pasco County has secured the future spring training site of the Rays, the location of the team’s new permanent home is still up in the air. Both St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor are battling to get the Rays on their side of the bay as the baseball team leaves Tropicana Field by 2028.
Talks about where to place the new stadium became even more serious after Major League Baseball’s executive council ended the proposal to split the team’s season between Florida and Montreal. That means the team will be here year-round, and they’ll need a place to play.
Both the House and Senate get millions in tax revenue to play with near the end of budget negotiations. That money is spread across different projects in what’s known in legislative parlance as the “sprinkle list.”
The House and Senate released their sprinkle lists Wednesday evening with leaders agreeing on $759 million for local projects.
The release of the list is a sign that budget negotiations are wrapped and the Legislature will hit its new planned end date of Monday, March 14.