ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale advocated for a new baseball stadium in St. Petersburg. (Photo Credit:
ESPN college basketball analyst, Dick Vitale, advocated for a new baseball stadium in St. Petersburg. (Photo Credit:

ESPN college basketball analyst, Dick Vitale, advocated for the Baseball Forever campaign to build a new stadium in St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Baseball Forever campaign is the official initiative by the city of St. Petersburg to keep the Rays in the Sunshine City.

A Manatee County resident, Vitale announced his support in a video posted on YouTube (seen above).

One of the touchstones of the Baseball Forever campaign, is the proposed stadium site’s proximity to areas like Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton. Vitale reminded viewers that the drive to downtown St. Petersburg would be easier for Rays’ fans south of the Skyway, than a commute to some areas in Hillsborough County.

I think it’s perfectly located and I’m hoping it is a reality, Vitale said.

Vitale also lauded the master plan for the Tropicana Field site with his token catch phrase, “it’s awesome, baby.”

The master plan includes:

— A new stadium in the northeast corner of the site along First Avenue South, where U-Haul currently resides.

— The architecture on the site would be tallest around the baseball stadium, slowly leveling out toward the surrounding neighborhoods.

— Around the stadium would be a series of much taller office buildings on one half, and shorter buildings on the other.

— The design also boasts a hotel and meeting space, a conference center, a tech and innovation district, and layered development with retail storefronts at ground level and housing above it — all ringing the stadium. Called the “Rays Way” retail entertainment area, the street would be car free on game days.

— Booker Creek would be restored, turning the area which cuts through the middle of the 86 acre site into a natural park setting. All told, 40 percent (34 plus acres) of the property would be dedicated to public space, including sidewalks and paved thoroughfares.

— Since connectability with the rest of the region is an integral part of the plan, a transportation hub in downtown has been included where the forthcoming water ferry and Bus Rapid Transit could connect. HKS recommended the conversion of First Avenue South into a two-way street to better facilitate transportation options.

I really believe it would be first class in every way, Vitale said.


According to Ryan Divish (Seattle Times), the Seattle Mariners talked with the Rays about a trade for Drew Smyly at the 2016 Winter Meetings. It’s no secret that Seattle has approached to the Rays front office about their pitching staff, with Smyly mentioned as a better fit since the Mariners likely do not have the prospect depth to land Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi.

Smyly who is projected to earn $6.9-million through arbitration, has been mentioned as the likeliest trade candidate for the payroll-conscious Rays.

Jeff Todd (MLB Trade Rumors) listed 10 bounce-back pitching candidates still available in free agency. Of interest to the Rays are Tyson Ross, Drew Storen, and Aaron Barrett.

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