Oh, look: a Rays person was in St. Pete talking about Tampa

The lazy river: trust us, you won't see it coming.

click to enlarge Oh, look: a Rays person was in St. Pete talking about Tampa
Kate Bradshaw

If you've been a member of the local media for a while, you are hard-wired to recognize the faintest utterances of a Rays exec about the stadium stuff as NEWS!

And possibly a SCOOP!

Well, probably not a scoop, but what else is there to cover this week anyway besides loud, zooming cars?

Why is covering the Rays' stadium saga so "important"? Well, it has to do with the old-timey notion that big sports teams bring big money for the cities that pay big money to build them.

Also, CLICKS!

Anyway, Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld, who seems very nice, offered quite a few faint utterances on Thursday.

It was a day shy of exactly four weeks since the team announced plans to leave Tropicana Field to play in Ybor.

Auld spoke before and entertained questions from members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Needless to say, there was less fanfare in St. Pete.

As he spoke, cars warming up for this weekend's Firestone Grand Prix St. Petersburg circled a nearby makeshift track.

Auld was soft-spoken as he went through his spiel about ditching the Trop and building a baseball stadium across the bay in Ybor.

The neighborhood “represents the multicultural history of this region” and is “ripe for the economic injection a ballpark could bring.”

The stadium wouldn't just be accessible during game time a few months out of the year, no.

The possibilities are endless, and the team has quite a few ideas.

A remote worker could hop on the wifi from a seat overlooking home plate, perhaps, on a December afternoon. The food service areas could host a culinary school or community kitchen in August or May.

And, if we heard him right, the stadium could become home to world's fastest and longest lazy river! (No, seriously. How awesome is that?!)

In other words: a centrally located facility on a compact former industrial site off Adamo Drive that could be all things to all people. But only with buy-in from billionaires on the east side of the bay. 

After all, the price tag for a new, modern stadium could easily go well north of $500 million.

“The key will be the business community,” Auld said. “Thats what we're working on right now and I believe we're going to come to a positive conclusion.”

Cool.

Well, his audience, many of them St. Pete residents who've resided in the city longer than the Rays have, weren't blown away.

Engaged citizen Willi Rudowsky, a longtime DTSP resident, started off the Q&A by asking, if the team doesn't manage to land all that sweet corporate money, what then?

“We don't have a Plan B," Auld replied. "We are focused entirely on playing [in Ybor].”

He also touched on topics like transit (we need more of it), the political climate (sucks but important) and how local governments "bent over backwards" to try to attract Amazon via incentives, a rationale for spending to keep pro sports teams.

Oh, and he said known prognosticators have said the Rays are likely to go into post-season, so that's news, we guess.

The room was less crowded than one would expect for a Rays stadium thing. There was no line of TV news cameras in back like there was when the team first publicly heralded its plans to move to Ybor, nor were there throngs of suit-clad movers-and-shakers gladhanding ad nauseam.

Perhaps it was because no one really expected any actual news, or because there were all these cool cars outside.

Scroll to read more Tampa Bay News articles

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.