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Snug Harbor added to list of possible Rays stadium sites

in Sports/Top Headlines by

It’s near enough to Tampa and new fans. It’s close to St. Petersburg and old ones.

It’s big enough for a modern facility. It’s fresh enough for a trendy one.

You can imagine the improvement in the roads. And, also, in the roster.

Yeah, Snug Harbor makes some sense for all of us, doesn’t it?

The Tampa Bay Rays, considering a new home, have added Snug Harbor, a 39-acre plot of land on Gandy Boulevard, to their options. And although it’s a little early to start comparison sights, there are some advantages you can think of already.

For instance, there is the waterfront, which would help in adding restaurants and other destinations. Remember when the Rays thought about a stadium at Al Lang? Every broadcast could open and close with an iconic view of the water. What better to say “Tampa Bay” to the nation?

There is the location. It wouldn’t be as far a trip for Tampa fans, or as dramatic change for St. Petersburg.

There is the chance to echo other stadiums such as San Francisco and Baltimore.

Water is cool. Even if it’s in a flood zone. Even if the price tag is $30 million. Think of home runs splashing down. Think of fans in boats.

Think, well, of fans.

Of course, most of us would rather see some sketches before making up our minds. A lot of us don’t care where the team is located, as long as it isn’t last place. And raising the money to build a first-class stadium is sure to come with sticker shock.

Here’s the question. The Rays have always struggled to draw fans to St. Petersburg. Would this be enough to convince Tampa fans to come? Reminder: The Rays are currently 30th (last) in attendance, and it isn’t close. The Rays are drawing 16,896. The next-to-last As draw 19,173. Four major league teams – the Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants and Blue Jays – draw more than 40,000 fans per game.

If the team is going to stay in Tampa Bay, it is going to have to maximize the area from which it draws.

At this point, no site should be eliminated.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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