The Tampa Bay Rays released the renderings for a proposed new ballpark in Ybor City. The ballpark is projected to cost $809 million with additional infrastructure costs of $83 million and could be complete for Opening Day 2023.
Here’s what you need to see and know about the renderings:
Yes, there’s still a dome
With priorities place on being “innovative and fan-friendly,” the $900 million ballpark would be fully enclosed by a translucent roof to ensure comfortable temperatures and game certainty.
A roof is unavoidable with Florida’s heat and frequent thunder and lightning storms, but in the design, sliding glass exterior walls beyond center field and behind home plate have been strategically placed to “bring the outside in,” offering what the designs claim will be stunning views of Tampa, Channelside and Ybor City, as well as cross breeze in pleasant weather.
The smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball
The ballpark would be the most intimate in Major League Baseball, with 28,216 fixed seats and a total capacity of 30,842.
A small upper level creates the closest vantage point of any modern ballpark, with a maximum distance of 204 feet from the field.
Fans choose from 17 comfortable, unique seating areas, or 21 distinct viewing platforms and social gathering spaces. These areas are connected by a 360-degree concourse featuring complete views of the playing field.
With the present of baseball experiences anchored in television, the Rays have put forward a stadium that will cater to the local attendee while still offering the natural light that will improve the viewer’s experience.
The Rays have also prioritized seating arrangements that function for business professionals, with flexible meeting spaces that would be a consultant’s dream. Think a coffee shop, but with all the food amenities needed in the immediate area, and with the evening’s entertainment already lined up.
Per the team press release: “The ballpark’s light colors, water features and modern contours invoke the bright future of the Tampa Bay region, while blending in seamlessly to the historic, urban fabric of Ybor City.“
The brick work in the first two stories of the ballpark would seem to have something more akin to the Ybor style, even if it lacks the exterior charm of a cigar factory, and still appear to tie in to the historic urban area before transitioning to the domed greenhouse above.
Key to the team’s intent has been that the design enables the stadium to serve as a year-round community asset, with the potential for “programming, events and creative partnerships.”
Practically, that allows the ballpark to be used as a domed public park where kids can play on the field at any time, with the concourses available for smaller business meetings, and the ability to meet the needs of larger corporate gatherings.
In the presentation, there was even talk of allowing the kitchen spaces to partner with a culinary institute. The possibilities are probably endless. Making the stadium a community asset beyond the occasional concert helps the team’s appeal for public funding, but also should endear the project to those living in the immediate area.
Moving to “the Heart of Tampa Bay”
The Ybor location is within a 30-minute drive of over 1.6 million people who call the Tampa Bay area home, with ample parking withing a 10-20 min walking distance, both key factors in improving attendance.
Additonally, the location has been selected to serve as a lynchpin between the business sector and the historic urban nightlife of Ybor City, which until this proposal has been an area distinct and separate from downtown Tampa.
To see more, the Rays have made the proposed ballpark plans available at ballparkreimagined.com.