This blog has long pointed out that anyone with a pile of dirt thinks they have a chance at landing a stadium. But most of them are silly...even though Tampa Bay residents won't agree on which ones are silly:
I've always said you could poll 100 Rays fans about where they'd like to see a new stadium built, and 100 would agree they'd like one built closer to where they live.But that point was echoed this weekend by a John Romano column that said there really are only two sites the Rays can consider - Downtown Tampa and adjacent to the current stadium in Downtown St. Pete.
But that doesn't mean a move to Tampa is a foregone conclusion. There is not a perfect plot of downtown land available, and funding in Hillsborough could be tricky.Romano goes on to say Derby Lane promise the best hope for that, except it doesn't have the highway infrastructure to ever get fans to the stadium quickly enough.
So, yes, Pinellas County is most definitely in the picture.
But you have to understand how the Rays view this. By itself, a shiny new stadium will not change the franchise's fortunes. If it's built in Pinellas, the Rays' new home has to have some way of drawing the Tampa crowd that has never flocked to Tropicana Field.
The columnist may not be aware the Selmon Expressway is expected to be extended to the Gandy Bridge by 2020, providing a lightning-fast, ride free of traffic lights from Downtown Tampa to Derby Lane. And that the state is connecting Derby Lane to I-275 in Pinellas County with a set of overpasses, set to be completed within just a couple of years.
So don't write off Derby Lane just yet.
But Romano continues with the option of last (and most probable) resort in his mind:
And that pretty much leaves Tropicana Field's land. Between the interstate access, the growing hipster scene in St. Pete and the possibility of redeveloping the extra acres with destination-type amenities, it's Pinellas' best bet.
In baseball scouting terms, it has the highest upside.
Now this doesn't mean the Pinellas list was a waste of time. On the contrary, it served an important purpose. It successfully pointed out what should now be obvious.
*If they choose either option at all
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