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By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 29, 2007
Why are the Rays proposing a new stadium now?
Because they want to. The Rays are obligated to play at Tropicana Field through 2027 by lease. But the team says it is making this pitch because they see the opportunity not only to get a new stadium, but to help transform downtown.
What if this stadium deal falls through?
From what the Rays say, they'd keep playing at Tropicana Field and probably try again for a new stadium at a later date. But it would remain to be seen how long managing partner Stuart Sternberg would want to own the team in that situation.
What would the new stadium be called?
It depends who wants to pay for it, because the naming rights will be available for purchase. According to the Rays, Tropicana's naming rights are specific to the current stadium.
What's the thinking behind the design?
Rather than a brick-based retro look that has been all the rage, the Rays are looking to the future with what principal owner Stuart Sternberg termed a "more sweeping, open, inviting" design. And without a brick in it. The 320-foot mast anchors the roof and is part of what the Rays consider an "iconic" design. It would hold 34,000 fans (most in the lower deck), would be open air with a cable-supported, sail-like covering that a team official described as "a glorified umbrella," and would have a natural grass field with standard dimensions. Balls hit over the right field wall would splash into the bay.
Isn't it going to be hot?
Of course, it's Florida in the summer time. But the Rays say it will be reasonably comfortable - more so than Atlanta, on par with St. Louis or Kansas City - for several reasons: the roof, which will be deployed during the day to keep heat from building up; the breezes coming off Tampa Bay; and cooling devices such as fans or misters.
What about rain?
The sail-like cover can be deployed in about eight minutes, and the Rays say it would provide enough covering to prevent postponements and delays except in the most severe storms.
What about parking?
It probably will be a problem, especially at first. Like Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston, the Rays' new park would offer very little parking at the site. The Rays say about 12,000 parking spots now sit within a short walk of the stadium, and more may be built by 2012, when the stadium is to open. But many of those spots are controlled by private property owners, who would have to cooperate if fans are to use them. In any event, fans accustomed to plentiful, close parking would have to get used to walking or taking shuttles.
Would there be more than Rays games there?
Probably. The stadium could accommodate a football field, which could lead to a college bowl game.
[Last modified November 29, 2007, 01:29:30]