Rays announce plans for new $1.3 billion stadium in St. Petersburg: 'Our Rays are here to stay'

It’s official - the Tampa Bay Rays are here to stay. 

The team, along with the city of St. Petersburg, announced plans for a new $1.3 billion state-of-the-art ballpark and a transformational development by the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership on the 86-acre site where the team's current stadium sits as part of the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District Tuesday morning.

"Major League Baseball is here to stay, right here," Rays owner Stuart Sternbeg said on Tuesday. 


Aerial rendering of proposed ballpark, provided by Hines and Tampa Bay Rays.

The new 30,000-seat stadium, that has the ability to accommodate up to 35,000 for other events, will open in 2028.

According to Major League Baseball, the new stadium will have three seating levels, a fixed roof, an artificial turf field, operable walls and a pavilion design. Fifteen to 20 acres, including the ballpark and two event parking garages, would be owned by Pinellas County, leased to St. Petersburg and subleased to the Rays on a 30-year lease agreement with options to extend it to 40 years, according to a statement by the MLB. 

Officials with MLB say the entire investment in the Historic Gas Plant District development project is projected to be more than $6 billion. 

The Rays will pay more than half of the $1.3 billion ballpark and be responsible for any cost overruns. Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg will combine to contribute approximately $600 million in equal amounts.

The agreement includes nearly 8 million square feet of mixed-use development that will surround the new site of the Rays ballpark. There are also plans for an African-American museum of history on the Historic Gas Plant site, an area that was used as a neighborhood barrier to segregate St. Pete decades ago. 

"Today we take a new step forward in the promises made to the Gas Plant community some 40 years ago when I was a young man," stated St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. "Promises of opportunity and housing and economic development. Today, we celebrate the power of partnership and inclusive progress for our entire community based on our shared priorities."

City leaders say the historic project will invest more than $6.5 billion in St. Petersburg over 20 years and be the largest mixed-use development project in Tampa Bay area history.

"Baseball has the power to connect people, connect communities and inspire us," Sternberg said. 

The new stadium is expected to create 4,500 construction jobs and 15,000 annual jobs through Pinellas County. 

Welch reiterated that the Gas Plant District community was promised a stake in the redevelopment of the land. He says the deal that the city has agreed to with the Hines Rays Group will honor that promise. 

"The jobs, housing, office-space, along with the opportunities for partnering with local businesses that drive our economy as well as new businesses that will be attracted to this world-class development will fuel our economy, create inclusive business opportunities that will create and be a catalyst for progress in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County for decades to come," Welch stated. 


Booker Creek Greenway looking north toward the Ballpark and Booker Music Hall. (Provided by Hines and Tampa Bay Rays)

This has been at least a 16-year saga. The Rays have attempted to find a deal in Tampa, only to find there was little appetite for a funding agreement.

READ: How will St. Petersburg pay for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark? It's still unclear, city says

They also went all-in on an idea to split the team between St Pete and Montreal, but the MLB killed that idea.

Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in late 2024. The team will continue to play at the existing Tropicana Field until its lease with the city ends in 2027. 

The first phase of development and the new ballpark should be ready by Opening Day 2028. 

The public approval process by Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg is expected to begin this fall.