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The Rays Tank: A New Stadium Proposal For The Rays?

Well, this comes as a bit of a surprise. Since the discussion between St. Pete and the Rays over a new stadium has grown stagnant over the past few years, a private group has stepped forward with their own plan for a potential new stadium site:

After months of secrecy, Darryl LeClair sent a letter Wednesday to St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster asking for an audience to pitch a new baseball stadium in the Carillon business park, just west of the Howard Frankland Bridge, in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg. His company, Echelon, controls roughly 12 acres of vacant land there, where a stadium could fit but not much else. [...]

The letter indicated that LeClair's team has met with experts in stadium design, demographics and traffic analysis, but until Wednesday he kept his plans close to the vest. (Tampa Bay Times)

The proposal, as described by the Tampa Bay Times, does sound intriguing; it'd theoretically put the Rays in a slightly better location, as they'd be directly next to one of the major bridges coming across from Tampa. But even then, I feel like it's a good idea, but not quite good enough. The crux of the whole problem is that people have to drive across a bridge to reach the Trop -- not that they have to travel far in St. Pete once across said bridge. Moving the stadium closer to a bridge would improve drive-times slightly, but it likely wouldn't be enough to make a large difference on attendance or be an adequate long-term solution.

I love ya, St. Pete, but shuffling the Rays' location around in Pinellas is not going to solve the main issue here: the majority of the regional population is across the bridge in Tampa. The densest areas of population -- which make for the easiest drive-times for the most people -- are across the bridge in Tampa. The Rays are next to last in attendance this year despite the team's success these past years -- shuffling the stadium around inside Pinellas isn't going to cut it. A big change is needed, and the only way we're going to get there is by having a regional conversation and engaging both sides of the bridges.

In response to this new plan, the Rays seem to be sticking to their guns:

"Over the years, we've heard and read about many developers who would like to include a baseball stadium in their plans," Kalt said. "Our position remains the same - we will consider any potential ballpark site in Tampa Bay, but only as part of a process that considers every ballpark site in Tampa Bay."