The Tampa Bay Rays and Charlotte County have issued the following joint statement:
“Following a joint assessment of the damage to Charlotte Sports Park caused by Hurricane Ian, Charlotte County and the Tampa Bay Rays have determined there is not adequate time before the Rays 2023 spring training is scheduled to begin to get the park in suitable condition to host games. Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training.
We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts. The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks.”
It seems likely the Rays may utilize Tropicana Field for Spring Training purposes, but that has not yet been determined. The Rays would likely only be able to stay in town if enough practice facilities are obtained. A normal Spring Training operation usually requires up to 8 fields of varying size, as well as training and office spaces. Gymns, pitching labs, and batting cages can be set up using temporary structures if the space is obtained as well.
Among the former Spring Training facilities available in Florida, there are two options in Central Florida likely to be in shape for Major League Spring Training.
The Wide World of Sports at Disney World was the home to the Atlanta Braves until 2020 and is at most a 90 minute drive from Tropicana Field, just 90 miles away from the team’s base of operations.
Meanwhile, the former Nationals complex in Viera, FL is now under the operation of United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) as a softball and college baseball facility, but is 150 miles (about a 2.5 hour drive) from Tropicana Field.
As for Charlotte Sports Park, the damage is said to be in the millions of dollars. The stadium is missing portions of its roof and boardwalk. Signage is damaged or missing and fences are mangled. Some of the #Rays' ops buildings are in even worse condition.— Patrick Obley (@PMOWriter) December 1, 2022