Gamble on Tampa as the New Home of the Rays. How the Seminole Hard Rock and the State Fairgrounds Can Keep the Rays in Tampa Bay Full-Time

A comment by JP Money in the recent Montreal and the Rays thread got me thinking again the potential of the State Fairgrounds as a location for a Rays stadium.

Here's some of what he wrote:

I’ve posted this before but I’ll rehash it. The best spot is the Fairgrounds off I-4. Why? Well sports gambling just got approved in FL. The Hard Rock just finished a huge addition across I-4 and the Amphitheater holds 20k and has prob ~25 events a year. Build a 30k seat ball park in that area with a monorail type system that connects the casino with the ballpark and the amphitheater and you’re really in business. Then build up that area a la The ATL Battery. Put in a couple hotels, some apartments, bars, restaurants, etc. You now arguably have the most desirable entertainment area in the Southeast US with a baseball/soccer stadium, Amphitheater and casino with a sports book. I’m sure the Rays could get a piece of the action with the development there and that’s where the real money is made.

These comments are similar to what I wrote in 2019 in a post titled Keep the Rays in Tampa (Bay), Viva Nueva Las Vegas.

An excerpt:

Folks, let’s cut to the chase, the only local entity that currently has the financial wherewithal and economic incentive to build a stadium for the Rays in Hillsborough County is Seminole Hard Rock Casino. In 2016, DRaysBay’s own Mister Lizzie posted a great article on a potential fairgrounds’ stadium.

Which brings us to the title of this post: Viva Nueva Las Vegas. The fairgrounds, some 330 acres, is under the control of a single entity and could be re-imagined as an east coast version of Las Vegas with high end casinos, such as the Bellagio, coupled with a mixed-use Water Street/Disney Springs type project.

In order to invest heavily in a Rays stadium, the Seminoles would likely demand the right to expand their gaming operations onto the fairgrounds with a tram/pedestrian bridge spanning the divide over I-4 between their existing property and the fairgrounds.

A major difference between 2019 and today is the fact that, as JP Money points out, betting on sports is now legal in Florida and, furthermore, the Florida Legislature just handed sports betting to the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a monopoly.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.