Rays receive permission to explore new stadium locations

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The Tampa Bay Rays have received permission to explore the possibility of building a new stadium outside the city of St. Petersburg, where they currently play, according to the St. Petersburg Times

The Rays and St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman have agreed to let the team search for potential sites in neighboring Hillsborough county, which includes the city of Tampa. Under the agreement, the Rays would pay St. Petersburg between $2 million and $4 million annually if the team leaves for a stadium in a different city before the lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027.

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Tropicana Field was opened in 1990 and has been the Rays' home field since they were formed in 1998. It is the only stadium in the league with a non-retractable roof and one of two stadiums with an artificial surface. 

The agreement stipulates that the Rays may only consider sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and must decide on a site before the end of 2017.

- Dan Gartland