Thursday another Tampa Bay city steps up to the plate to pitch their town as the best site for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium.
The Mayor of Oldsmar will present new photos and video renderings of the stadium, which would be just west of Race Track Road near Tampa Bay Downs on a 120-acre open lot.
Mayor Doug Bevis says the team would be foolish to pass up on their small 14,000 population town.
The biggest selling point and drawback is the potential stadiums location.
The Pro: Since it straddles the Pinellas/ Hillsborough County line, there is a potential for both counties to pitch in to jointly fund a new Rays stadium.
The con: Some argue Oldsmar is just too far away. It’s more than half an hour's drive from downtown St Pete, about 25 minutes’ drive to downtown Tampa, and that doesn't even account for traffic.
The Chief of staff for St Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman even joked "Oldsmar is like driving to Georgia “It’s a perfect spot to alienate Tampa and St Pete."
Thursday we'll get a better idea of what the Oldsmar Mayor Bevis has in mind, including the stadium as the anchor for a big entertainment complex with hotels, restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
The mayor says whether they get the stadium or not the area will turn into an entertainment district for the city.
Another big potential snag is traffic. Can the tiny city handle thousands of fans making their way to Oldsmar on game nights?
Mayor Bevis says with a few improvements to the existing roads, he doesn't think traffic would be a problem.
Bevis says 50,000 people flock to the town every day for work. He adds that people come from all directions to Oldsmar, so one particular road wouldn’t be swamped with traffic. Veterans Expressway and Tampa Road, he argues, are big enough to handle the extra cars.
He also has high hopes for a passenger train on the existing railroad tracks that run through Oldsmar connecting downtown St Pete, to Clearwater, Largo, Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and downtown Tampa. Bevis says one thing is for sure: Traffic would be less of an issue here than it already is in St Pete for fans getting to Tropicana Field. “Everybody funnels down 275 in Pinellas down to one lane Central Avenue and one lane Martin Luther King. The good thing about Oldsmar is people come from opposite directions. Hillsborough comes from Hillsborough, Pinellas comes from Pinellas and Pasco comes from Pasco. That’s drastically different from St Pete where everyone is funneled down the same roads to get to the stadium.”
The Rays have been meeting with each town, including Oldsmar, and they insist they haven't officially narrowed down the list. That means all options are still on the table.
Mayor Bevis says the architecture company that worked on the drawings did it pro-bono, and since it was free, he had nothing to lose throwing his city's name into the hat.