As a 10 year resident of Tampa, I would like to say that I want to keep the Rays in the St. Petersburg area. I for one have no problems nor inclinations with the 30 minute drive from my home to the Trop. However, I seem to be the minority in comparison to my fellow Tampanians.
I love the city of St. Petersburg, I highly enjoy stopping by the Pier, walking down Central, or going to the defunct Baywalk before a game. St. Petersburg should be represented in our Bay area with a first class product like the Rays. For too many years St. Petersburg has been the bargaining chip for MLB franchises or the brief stops for the Tampa Bay Storm and Lightning. So, what would need to be done to keep the Rays in St. Pete?
I propose better transportation between Tampa and St. Pete as well as the surrounding counties. Easier said then done, right? I know, I know this is long winded argument that has gone on longer then the Stadium debates. On the wings of the light rail construction plans I feel that it would be a great time to talk about better public transportation in our Bayarea. Yes, I know we have our buses and the Trolley in Ybor City, but that is not nearly enough for the ever growing population in the Tampa Bay area. If the Tampa Bay area had more reliable transportation such as buses, cable cars, and ferries this could almost void out any argument with a stadium being placed in St. Pete.
The cost of new stadium would pale in comparison to implementation of a adding such wide transportation system. On the surface, yes. How would one use the new public transportation option besides on game days? Think about it Pinellas and Sarasota county, it's Friday night and you want to go to Ybor City to watch the road game where the Rays take on the Rangers, and then go to a club. What do you do? You drive for an hour, or less, park your car and then have to worry about getting back over the bridge at 2 a.m.. Now, if you had a reliable transportation set-up such a a ferry port that could take you to Westshore or to the mouth of the Hillsborough River where from there you get on a five-ten minute trolley ride through the beautiful down town Tampa would that not sound more appealing? For Tampanians, would it not be easier to park at a Ferry station take a ferry to Downtown St. Pete where we pick up a reliable bus or trolley and go to a Rays game? Is that not better then battling through rush hour traffic on the Gandy or Howard Franklin?
What do we have now? Buses. Have you ever missed a public transportation bus? How long do you have to wait? 30-40 minutes? If we had buses that were reliable, as in every 15 minutes, would that not be better? As of right now there are no ferries, nor trolley, nor really anything that unites the surrounding counties, so of course you are going to hear a tired argument over travel time to ball games.
I turn this discussion to the you Draysbay.com. What do you think? Would a better public transportaion help keep a stadium in St. Pete? Do you care?