The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg have reached an agreement allowing the Rays to look in Hillsborough County — that’s where Tampa is — a potential new stadium sites. In exchange the Rays have agreed to buy out the lease between the team and St. Pete if the Rays do, indeed, move before their Tropicana Field lease is up in 2027.
In the past the city was staunchly against allowing the Rays to do anything like this. There seems to be some reasonable calculation going on here by the new administration. One, that the Rays may not, in fact, find a better deal elsewhere, given how much harder it is to get a stadium financed by someone else now compared to several years ago. Two that, at least with this deal, the buyout provisions are likely more certain than they may have been if the lease was merely broken and litigation ensued. And, finally, St. Pete may have come to realize that the land beneath Tropicana Field is more valuable to the city than the ballpark is, so if there is a means to get the Rays out faster, maybe it’s in the city’s best interests.