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Business Observer Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 3 years ago

Will the Rays say goodbye to St. Pete?

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The Tampa Bay Rays and local business leaders unveiled a plan for a Ybor City stadium site.

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg on Friday endorsed a plan to locate a new stadium for the Major League Baseball team in Tampa's Ybor City.

The Rays have been struggling for years with attendance at their current home, Tropicana Field in downtown St. Petersburg, prompting a group of community and business leaders to form a group called Tampa Bay Rays 2020 with the goal of keeping the team in the Tampa Bay region.

“This is all about the future,” states Ron Christaldi, co-founder of Tampa Bay Rays 2020, in a press release. “Bringing the Rays to Tampa will transform our region and serve as an economic engine for decades to come.”

Christaldi is a partner at Tampa law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick. The group's other co-founder is Chuck Sykes, CEO of Sykes Enterprises.

“This is a unique and rare opportunity to build a ballpark that will be a wonderful community asset for many years,” Sykes adds in the release. “Support from our business community is vital.”

Christaldi and Sykes say that the primary focus of their organization is to garner business support for a new ballpark, which could cost $700 million, according to some estimates.

In the release, Sternberg praised the efforts of Tampa Bay Rays 2020 to put together an attractive site for the team.

“The Ybor City location represents the finest opportunity for Major League Baseball to thrive in the Tampa Bay region for generations to come,” he states. “We are excited to explore ways to weave Ybor's rich history into a next-generation, neighborhood ballpark.”

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