Before we begin our series looking more in depth at possible Rays stadium locations, we must first cross a very familiar name off the list.
For those well acquainted with Downtown Tampa, the location of the longstanding ConAgra flour mill has been a tempting Rays stadium location.
Nestled on the south east side of the downtown peninsula along the Selmon causeway, it's close to the Florida Aquarium and near ample downtown parking, and -- most importantly -- eligible for a wealth of tax money already allocated to that region. As phrased by the Tampa Bay Times:
because it's in downtown's community redevelopment area, a ballpark there could be eligible for a portion of property taxes that are set aside for road and infrastructure projects to support new development.
But the Rays are not the only group looking to capitalize on the available funds.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his investors have already bought up the majority of the surrounding land in an effort to transform the southern waterfront area of downtown Tampa, and their plans do not include a baseball stadium.
In the wake of Jeff Vinik's land development plans shutting out the Rays from the ConAgra flour mill region by Amelie Arena (formerly the Tampa Bay Times forum), any Rays stadium locations in downtown Tampa must now shift focus.
Here's the new layout on the south side of downtown, as included in the group's $2B proposal:
As you can see, there's not a baseball stadium in sight.
Furthermore, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a vocal supporter of the Rays, does not see a fit at the flour mill. He said as much back in 2014:
"I think baseball fits in the urban environment, I think that's where they want to be - it doesn't have to be on that ConAgra site," he added, focusing on a flour mill just north of Vinik's holdings rumored to be a potential stadium site for the Rays. "There are other sites that are available that would allow us to link Ybor City to downtown and connect to this Channelside area that would round off the eastern side of our city in ways that we can't even imagine."
And reiterated the difficulty of landing the Rays there to the Times, as the flour mill is still in operation:
"There are too many other issues with that ConAgra site, including the fact that we would have to rebuild and replicate that plant somewhere else, which is probably $80 million in addition to the cost of the stadium"
The team will have to look elsewhere, but the still might be a waterfront property for the Rays. Our site would encourage the west side of downtown, as Mayor Buckhorn eyes the east side. We will cover both in depth in the near future.