Tampa Bay Rays’ planned move to Ybor City stirring up mixed feelings

Author: WTSP
Published: Updated:
Tropicana Field. Photo via Flickr.

The Tampa Bay Rays announced plans this week to relocate the team from St. Petersburg to Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa.

Talks of a new stadium for the team have been going on for a while, pushed forward by dismal attendance numbers. They come in last in the MLB in fan attendance per game.

Some feel it will boost ticket sales by putting the team in the heart of the region, but while it’s a boom for some, it’s a concern for others.

“I want it to come. I think it’ll be good for Tampa,” said Lisa Harmon. She owns the Ybor City Barbering Company on 15th Street, just steps away from the preferred stadium site for the Rays.

“Anytime we get more restaurants, more breweries, more stuff like that, it just makes this whole area seem nicer,” she said. “I know we’ll figure out something else if this space doesn’t work.”

Yet for some neighbors born and raised in the area, it’s more complicated. Over the years, parts of Ybor’s black population has faced displacement through development, buyouts or rising rents. Longtime neighbors have concerns a new stadium could continue that trend.

“I’m sure it’s going to bring revenue in or what have you, but first of all, here and now, there’s no black businesses to speak of at all,” said Ybor native Alfred Pyles. “There used to be many,” he said, adding that redevelopment and buyouts contributed to the decline in black business in Ybor City.

Pyles is determined to avoid this fate.

“This is home. And this is where I’ll be until that day comes. Don’t plan on going nowhere.”

After the Rays move out of Tropicana Field, the ownership of that stadium will go back to the city of St. Pete.

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