One can only wonder whether “Tampa Bay” would have been granted a Major League franchise had Major League Baseball known how the first 13 years of the franchise’s history was going to play out.
The team was brought to the Tampa area, in fact, upon the premise that St. Petersburg had a stadium for the team. That stadium, the Florida Sun Coast Dome (now known as Tropicana Field) was built in 1990, eight years before the team arrived, and represented yesterday’s news in terms of amenities, style, class and substance.
By 1998, with the Dome Stadium era in professional baseball officially over, and every team in baseball either playing in or building a new stadium, St. Petersburg already had a strike against it.
Strike two for the city of St. Petersburg was the city of St. Petersburg. The city is part of the larger Tampa metropolitan area, so one might think the area as a whole could support baseball. However, the actual city of St. Petersburg is not large—less than 300,000 people—and is surrounded on three and a half sides by water. It is difficult to access and it is difficult to negotiate.
So the Tampa Bay Rays are currently a good team playing in a bad stadium in a remote part of town/area. At the end of the day, the people of Tampa and of Florida need to do the right thing:
Build a nice, modern new stadium in Tampa proper so that everyone can get to the ballpark and have a good time actually being at the ballpark.