Following news that the Tampa Bay Rays are staying put, the team is now planning a series of focus group sessions to receive feedback on how to create a positive fan experience at a new stadium.
The team reached a deal last month with the city of St. Petersburg to build a new stadium at the Historic Gas Plant District where Tropicana Field is currently located.
“The Rays are focused on designing a state-of-the-art ballpark that will provide our fans an experience unlike any other in Major League Baseball,” the team wrote in an email to fans. “As we work toward that goal, it is crucial that we hear from our fans and provide opportunities for your feedback and involvement throughout the design process.”
The sessions will be held Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Westshore area of Tampa; Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in downtown St. Pete; and Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in downtown St. Pete. Click the hyperlinks for more information and to register.
Space is “very limited” at the sessions, the team said. They are allowing just one person per reservation, no guests, and reservations will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans are asked to sign up for no more than one session.
Those who register will be emailed confirming attendance and providing additional details about the session. Those who do not receive a follow-up email did not secure a spot as the session was already filled with the maximum number of attendees.
The team said they would be in touch with those who do not receive a reservation “to discuss future opportunities and capture your insights.”
Reservations are non-transferable, the team notes.
The Rays have partnered with a third-party advisory and planning firm, CSL, to host the focus group sessions, which will “gather thoughts and opinions regarding potential features, amenities, and seating options” at a new Rays ballpark.
The Rays announced Sept. 19 that they were “here to stay,” referencing the team’s current home in St. Pete at the Historic Gas Plant site.
The agreement to stay in St. Pete came after Mayor Ken Welch in late January selected the Hines/Tampa Bay Rays development team to redevelop the 86-acre Tropicana Field site, a decision that came about six months after Welch scrapped a previous development selection process and started anew.
Now, the $1.3 billion stadium project — which the Rays have said they will pay half of — is expected to include a 30,000 fan-capacity stadium along with a host of other amenities throughout the stadium district. That includes 4,800 residential units, including 1,200 affordable/workforce housing units and 600 senior living units.
Additionally, the plan calls for 1.4 million square-feet of office, medical and commercial space; 750,000 square-feet of retail; 100,000 square-feet of entertainment space; 50,000 square-feet of civic space, including a new home for the Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum; 90,000 square-feet of conference, ballroom and meeting space; 14 acres of public open space; 14,000 parking spaces; a concert venue with space for 4,000 fans; and 750 hotel rooms.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2024 and will span two phases. The team will continue playing at Tropicana Field through the 2027 season, which also marks the end of its current lease with the city. Phase 1 of the development, which will include the new ballpark, is expected to be complete and ready for the Rays’ Opening Day in 2028.