The Tampa Bay Rays are looking for a new stadium, and Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis wants his city to be in the mix.
Could the Tampa Bay Rays move from St. Petersburg to Oldsmar?
If Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis has his way, the answer will be ‘yes.’
For the past few years, Bevis has made no secret of the fact that he would love to see the Rays move from south St. Pete to his city located at the top of Old Tampa Bay, and following a recent decision by the St. Petersburg City Council to allow the team to seek a new stadium deal elsewhere, the mayor wants to make sure Oldsmar is on the short list when it comes to possible relocation sites.
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
“I’ve spent the past two years pimping this idea, and no one really took me seriously,” Bevis, who also works as a deejay for a local country music radio station, recently told Oldsmar Connect.
“But once the St. Pete City Council allowed the Rays to talk to other communities, (city manager) Bruce (Haddock) and I began putting the feelers out that we wanted to be considered.”
According to the mayor’s dream scenario, the Rays could construct a stadium, plus all the ancillary facilities that must accompany them now, such as hotels, restaurants and shopping complexes, on a vacant, 120-acre parcel of land located across from the Tampa Bay Downs Racetrack on Race Track Road.
This Google Maps screenshot shows the area of a potential Rays stadium in Oldsmar, to left of the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack.
Bevis said the owner of the property is on board with the idea, although they don’t want to be directly involved until when, and if, it gets to a serious level of discussion.
“I’ve talked to the property owner, and she said she is willing to be in any fight to bring the team here,” Bevis said. “She just doesn’t want to fight the fight herself. So I’ll do it for her!”
Bevis admitted that every time he mentions Oldsmar, a city that is only 10 miles wide and has a population of about 14,000 residents, being home to an MLB team, people chuckle and brush off the idea.
But he said when people think about the location, which is easily accessible from many directions and fits much of the criteria required by teams today, plus the fact that there are some big-time projects coming to the city, they start to realize it’s not such a far-fetched idea after all.
“People laugh when I say I want to bring the Rays to Oldsmar, and then they think about it and they go, wait a minute, that’s not a bad idea!” Bevis said.
“We think the location has potential, because it meets the everything you need for a stadium: geographics, demographics, household income, accessibility,” he added. “I mean every site is going to have issues, but the key to this location is it will be able to get joint funding from Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, with the stadium on the Pinellas side and parking, hotels and other facilities on the Hillsborough side.”
The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly looking to relocate from their home at Tropicana Field in St. Pete.
Bevis, who was automatically reelected to a second term when he ran unopposed this year, and Haddock sat down earlier this week with Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen, who is spearheading the new stadium location search, to discuss the subject.
And while some people might consider Oldsmar to be a longshot to become the new home of the Rays, all the mayor wants is for his city to be included in the mix.
“The intent of the meeting was to bring awareness to the idea, because the objective is to keep the team in the Tampa Bay area,” Mayor Bevis said.
“Our objective is to make sure Oldsmar is in the conversation. If there’s a short list, we want to be on it.”