Since their inception in 1998, the Rays have played at Tropicana Field, the last remaining dome stadium Major League Baseball. Even though many fans prefer to watch baseball being played outside, Tropicana Field keeps the summertime heat and humidity out, keeping fans cool. Over the past decade, the Rays have invested in making their stadium one of the best experiences for their fans. However, because Tropicana Field lacks many amenities of newer ballparks, the team continues to explore options of building a new stadium.
In November 2007, the Rays announced plans to build a new ballpark in downtown St. Petersburg, on the location of their former spring training home, Al Lang Field. At a cost of $450 million, the ballpark would seat 34,000 fans and be open to the elements, but have a retractable roof that will open or close in eight minutes. The retractable roof would have been one of the most unique in baseball consisting of a light weatherproof fabric pulled over the playing field by a hoist tower in centerfield. It would have all the same modern and fan friendly amenities as every other ballpark built and have air conditioned concourses with views of the field.
In May 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays announced their financing plan to construct the ballpark. Owner of the Rays, Stuart Sternberg, would contribute $150 million, $70 million or more would come from the sale of Tropicana Field, $100 million from a one-cent extension from Pinellas County tourist development tax that was used to construct Tropicana Field, $75 million from the City of St. Petersburg and $55 million from parking revenues. The Rays would pay for any cost overruns.
On June 25, 2008 the Rays announced they were abandoning their ambitious plans to build a $450 million stadium on the downtown waterfront by 2012. The stadium has been delayed indefinitely because St. Petersburg and Pinellas County officials complained that the city and county were being rushed to commit millions of public money for the project. In June 2010, the Rays announced that they would explore all options outside of the Tampa Bay area, including outside of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Since 2012 there has been little progress in the Rays quest to have a new ballpark built as the team is contractually tied to Tropicana Field until 2027.