Tampa Bay Times
Written by Langston Taylor
TAMPA – Whatever the future may hold for a stadium in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Rays are leaving their existing outpost in the city when the team merchandise store downtown closes up shop Friday.
Customers received an email from the team saying the owner of the Park Tower building on North Tampa Street will not renew its lease for the store.
“Thank you for your business throughout the years, we look forward to serving you at our new store location soon,” the email read.
A team spokeswoman would provide no details about a new location.
The store opened in August 2007 and sells T-shirts and other Rays apparel, as well as game tickets.
Half-price on Nike apparel and caps as well as other sales will be offered in the store’s final hours, according to the Rays’ email. The main Tropicana Field Team Store remains open Wednesdays-Fridays and game days. Fans can also buy tickets at the box office seven days a week.
Kelsy Van Camp, director of marketing and communications for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, hopes the team’s Tampa store remains nearby.
“We’d love to keep them down here,” Van Camp said. “They’re a wonderful partner.”
Renovations to the Park Tower building, which is owned by Feldman Equities and Tower Realty Partners, will feature an upgrade to the lobby beside the current store location, according to the building’s web site. The Rays’ release says that’s why the team cannot extend its lease.
Mack Feldman with Feldman Equities said the company could not fit the Rays store in as part of the renovations.
“We felt it was important to consider other local businesses that could best meet the needs of our tenant and growing downtown Tampa community,” Feldman said in an email Tuesday to the Tampa Bay Times. “We wish the Rays all the best in their pursuit of another location.”
Van Camp said the Downtown Partnership is looking forward to the renovations.
“We’re excited about the changes that are happening,” she said, “and the shuffling around is just another piece of that.”
The Rays’ downtown Tampa store was the scene of the first meeting between Hillsborough county officials and the team’s management in February 2016 after St. Petersburg gave its approval for the Rays to explore potential new stadium sites across the Tampa Bay area.
The team says Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg no longer serves its needs. The Rays have a lease agreement on the stadium that runs through the 2027 season.