Not that we do not enjoy the view of the back walls in Tropicana Field, but how sweet would that view look as you watch the Rays play? For the last three years, there has been a lot more said than done regarding a potential new home for the Tampa Bay Rays as ownership, politicians, and members of the business community walk the fine line of political correctness and emotional understanding of the dynamics of the bay-area. Those parties have, for the most part, remained publicly silent and have allowed national pundits to fill the space with repetitive talking points about the club's attendance woes and how baseball cannot work in our market while sitting in ivory towers found in Bristol, Manhattan, Los Angeles, and places in between.
As Michael J. Fox's character Lewis Rothschild said in The American President, "People want leadership...and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage (such as a baseball stadium in Las Vegas), and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."
In the absence of leadership on this much-needed discussion regarding the Rays stadium, we present our proposal for both the location and design for the next home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
If that view is not familiar to you, it is a view of downtown Tampa while standing in Julian B. Lane Waterfront park near the University of Tampa. Why that location?
- It capitalizes on the Riverwalk plans for the area
- It capitalizes on the population density of the area
- It is public land rather than private land
The proposed location currently lacks parking options adjacent to the property, but offers plentiful parking options within the immediate area affords several avenues for fans to use to get to the area and move within the proposed area to get to the ballpark, even by boat for those that can afford the use of personal watercrafts or should the two sides of the bay work together to use ferries to move fans from the piers in St. Petersburg over the water to the riverfront area.
The land itself is owned by the city and thus the sale price is a bit easier to negotiate. Consider that Orlando had public land after the closure of the Naval Training Center in Orlando a number of years ago and negotiated an extremely favorable sales price to a developer that built the thriving Baldwin Park community near downtown Orlando that is one of the most desirable areas in Orlando for potential residents.
We are not real estate developers, city planners, or lawyers, but we are concerned fans that are worried that continual non-action on this issue will lead to the Rays ceasing to exist in the are. Some of us grew up with the Rays while others adopted the team after moving into the area or becoming disenfranchised with other teams. We are frustrated with the lack of action on this issue by all parties and wish to see the leadership in the bay area as well as Rays' ownership to work together on this for the common good of the area population.
If the parties involved can come to a common understanding on where to build a stadium, then they can begin the discussions on how to pay for it and what type of stadium can be built. Coming to a consensus on a stadium location would be the first concrete action for the parties involved since the failed attempt at building the sailpark on the current site of Al Lang Field. If this, and the pending physical stadium proposal on Monday push the public discussion on this issue forward, it will have been worth the time and effort put into it as well as the critiques some are certain to express.