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Business Observer Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018 3 years ago

Tampa Bay Rays’ $892 million Ybor City dream edges closer to reality

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Advocacy group says $160 million has been pledged toward a new stadium for the team.

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Rays 2020, a nonprofit group of business and community leaders facilitating support for a new Rays stadium in Ybor City, has secured $160 million in support for the project.

The Rays play home games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and face a Dec. 31 deadline to inform St. Pete officials whether they intend to leave prior to the end of their lease in 2027. In July, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg released plans for a fixed-roof, 28,000-seat stadium that would cost $892 million to build.

Details about the source of the funds were not disclosed, but Lisa Brock of Brock Communications, the group’s PR firm, says donors have, to date, pledged $16 million per year over a 10-year period.

According to a press release, Tampa Bay Rays 2020 has also formed leadership committees, headed by executives in key industries, that will expand the organization’s reach. Leaders include: 

  • Eric Page, partner at Shutts & Bowen LLP and attorney John Dicks will head the legal committee;
  • Chip Diehl, past commander of MacDill Air Force Base and Jeff Cathey, director of senior military affairs at Bank of America, will head the military and veterans committee;
  • Jim Sullivan, vice president of Scratch Concepts, will head the hospitality committee;
  • Katie Gower; director of business development at Ed Taylor Construction, will head the real estate development committee; and
  • Carlton Fleming, a retired Major League Baseball player, will head the professional athletes committee.

Tampa Bay Rays 2020 also announced the formation of an 11-member steering committee called Friends of the Rays that, according to the release, will work to secure small- to medium-sized sponsorships and community-based partnerships.

“These committees came about as a result of the community’s interest and sheer willingness to do what they can to involve friends and colleagues,” states Ron Christaldi, co-chairman of Tampa Bay Rays 2020, in the release. “It’s all very exciting because community and business support is crucial to our success.”

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