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Monday, Oct 23, 2017
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Group seeks land for Rays stadium in downtown Tampa

TAMPA - A group called BuildItDowntownTampa has jumped into the Tampa Bay Rays stadium mix, saying it is trying to secure downtown land for a new ballpark. In a late Tuesday news release, the group said it has formed a seven-person investment team to try to secure land for a stadium. It is looking at two sites in downtown Tampa. The group did not name its investors. BuildItDowntownTampa operates a website at www.builditdowntowntampa.org and has been conducting an online petition to push for a downtown stadium. Its news release coincides with the ABC Coalition's last presentation, at 1:30 p.m. today before the Hillsborough County Commission. The ABC Coalition is a community group formed to study whether the Rays need a new stadium and, if so, where it should be. In recent months, the coalition has shifted from a study group to more of an activist group and has pushed for a new stadium.
The coalition has said the best locations for a stadium are the Gateway area of St. Petersburg, just over the Howard Frankland bridge; Tampa's West Shore area; and downtown Tampa. BuildItDowntownTampa is at least the fourth group that has shown an interest in building or securing land for a stadium. Claire Clements, a Tampa land broker, and some unnamed partners have been trying to secure land in the downtown Channel District. Reached Wednesday morning, she said her group is not affiliated with the BuildItDowntownTampa investors. Republic Land, a large developer in the Washington, D.C., area, is hoping to do a massive retail and hotel project at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It originally proposed building a Major League Baseball stadium there but has backed off that plan. A group seeking to redevelop the old Toytown landfill at Interstate 275 and Roosevelt Boulevard in Pinellas County has said it would like to build a stadium on the site. A spokesman for the BuildItDowntownTampa group, Ryan Neubauer, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. He said in a new release, "As we've said from the start, this is not a St. Petersburg v. Tampa thing. It's a what's best for our team and our region thing."

Reporter Michael Sasso can be reached at (813) 259-7865.

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