As negotiations continue between Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay Rays about a potential new stadium, Commissioner Ken Hagan said on Wednesday he wants county staff to put out a request for proposal to have an underwriting team ready to sell stadium revenue bonds.
“My goal is to come up with a game plan within one year that will ensure that the team remain in Tampa Bay for decades to come,” the commissioner told his colleagues.
Hagan is part of a committee of Hillsborough County officials who met last week with Rays officials for the second time since the city of St. Petersburg approved an agreement in January that allows the ball club to survey the area in search of a ballpark to replace Tropicana Field.
The Rays have a lease with St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field, but have made it known for years that they want to play in a different ballpark in the region, as they continued to struggle with their home attendance. The recently approved agreement gives the Rays three years to find another stadium site, but requires them to give the city at least six months to come up with a proposal of its own. The team is not allowed to leave Tropicana before 2018.
Fifth Third Bank Tampa Bay President Brian Lamb and Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes, two members of the Hillsborough committee working with the Rays, have been tasked with helping out in that effort.