ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays are now on the hunt for a new spring training location after Charlotte Sports Park sustained damage from Hurricane Ian, the team announced Thursday.
Charlotte County and the Rays released a joint statement expressing disappointment in the unfortunate news for the county and Rays fans.
"Following a joint assessment of the damage to Charlotte Sports Park caused by Hurricane Ian, Charlotte County and the Tampa Bay Rays have determined there is not adequate time before the Rays 2023 spring training is scheduled to begin to get the park in suitable condition to host games," they said in a news release. "Charlotte County supports the Rays efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training."
The statement continues, "We are all disappointed for the residents of Charlotte County and the fans there. The community is in the thoughts and hearts of the Rays, and the team will continue to support recovery efforts.
"The Rays and Charlotte County intend to develop a restoration plan for Charlotte Sports Park in the coming weeks."
One potential location for the 2023 spring training season could be Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, 10 Tampa Bay sports director Evan Closky reports. However, more details are expected in the coming weeks.
Charlotte County is part of the southwest Florida region hard-hit by Hurricane Ian when the storm battered the state, leaving behind mass destruction.
Ian hit southwest Florida on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm with wind speeds of 155 mph, just shy of Category 5 strength (157mph). The highest recorded wind gust with Ian was 140 mph in Cape Coral, Florida, north of where the storm made landfall on Cayo Costa.
The highest rain total, however, was recorded near Orlando in Union Park where 21.16" of rain came down. This caused many central and south Florida rivers and streams to flood, adding to further damage and loss across the state.
One-hundred and thirty-seven fatalities resulted from Hurricane Ian in the state of Florida, with damage costs being estimated at up to $40 billion.
10 Tampa Bay meteorologist Grant Gilmore contributed to this article.