Rays’ Stadium Announcement Allows MLB to Move Forward With Expansion Plans
News provided byACCESSWIRE
Sep 19, 2023, 3:10 PM ET
The resolution of the Rays' stadium issue in St. Petersburg solves the remaining issue that has been holding up Major League Baseball adding two new expansion teams
Local public financing in the amount of $600 million towards a new Rays' stadium in St. Petersburg demonstrates significance of professional sports to the local economy
Orlando now the leading candidate for an MLB expansion team
ORLANDO, FL / ACCESSWIRE / September 19, 2023 / The Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, LLC (Orlando Dreamers) today announced the resolution of the Rays' stadium issue in St. Petersburg clears the path for Major League Baseball (MLB) to approve an expansion team for Orlando. MLB previously communicated that upon the resolution of the stadium situations in Oakland and St. Petersburg, it wants to add two teams as soon as practical. According to Pat Williams, Co-Founder and President of the Orlando Dreamers, "The Rays have been working vigorously to find a strategy to finance a new stadium to replace Tropicana Field. I have indicated all along that it was highly likely that the situation with the Rays would be resolved one way or the other by the end of this year. This announcement paves the way for MLB to now begin the process for adding two expansion teams. The Orlando Dreamers are genuinely excited to see this process move to the next phase, as Orlando is clearly the leading candidate for the next MLB franchise."
Williams further noted that based on the summary information he has seen, it appears the Rays will be receiving approximately $600 million in local public financing towards their new stadium. "Given the level of annual tourist tax revenues in Pinellas County, Florida and the competing projects requesting funding, this is a monumental accomplishment by the Rays. To put this in context, Orange County, Florida generates approximately five times the annual tourist tax revenue as Pinellas County. In addition, Pinellas County also has to address the situation with its beach erosion, which clearly has to be a top priority. This level of local public financing support underscores the significance of professional sports to the local economy. Although the Dreamers have not seen the final financing structure contemplated for the new Rays' stadium, we congratulate the Rays on this major exciting achievement."
Williams emphasized that the requirements for a metro area to land a new MLB franchise are very demanding. "There are only a handful of metro areas in the country that are potential candidates for the location of a Major League Baseball team. Although we are aware of existing franchises that might potentially be for sale with an opportunity to be acquired and relocated, we initiated our quest with a focus on an expansion slot. The fact is there are very limited opportunities for a city to obtain a team. In addition to Orlando, the Dreamers have always seen Las Vegas as a logical location for a franchise, and it clearly appears the Oakland A's will be relocating to that market. As the closest surrogate to Orlando given that both are primary tourist destinations, it is clear how successful the new professional sports franchises have been in Las Vegas and the positive impact that has had on that local economy. As the most visited destination in the world, Orlando this year will have almost double the number of tourists as Las Vegas, so this clearly provides an indication of how successful MLB will be with our new domed stadium in Orange County, right in the middle of the tourist corridor."
Williams concluded by providing some comparative statistics with other markets mentioned as potential sites for an MLB franchise. "Orlando is the largest media market in the country without Major League Baseball. We are now #17 and recently passed Miami. Nashville is #27, less than two-thirds our media market size. We also get approximately five times as many tourists annually as Nashville. Portland is the #22 media market, and Orlando's growth dwarfs that of Portland. Salt Lake City is the #29 media market, and Las Vegas is #40. As the most visited destination in the world, it is clear MLB will be highly successful in Orlando. We are working with Orange County to finalize approval of our public financing request that will provide partial funding towards our new domed stadium which Orange County will get to own, and this public financing will be supplemented by the largest private financing in the history of MLB towards a publicly owned facility. The presumed resolution in St. Petersburg now accelerates the timeline for Orlando getting awarded a franchise, and the approval of our public financing request will be essential in getting MLB's final commitment for a team."
About Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, LLC
Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, LLC was established to bring Major League Baseball to Orlando and Central Florida. The organization is led by Pat Williams, Founder of the Orlando Magic, and updates can be found at www.orlandodreamers.com. Orlando is the largest media market in the United States without a Major League Baseball team, recently surpassing Miami in terms of media market size. Orlando is also the most visited destination in the world.
SOURCE: Orlando City Baseball Dreamers, LLC
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