For the first time since 2008, Tampa Bay Rays will prepare for the upcoming season someplace other than Charlotte Sports Park.
The Charlotte Sun reported Thursday that the team and Charlotte County have determined that the Spring Training stadium, damaged as a result of Hurricane Ian in September, would not be ready for the team in time for the 2023 Grapefruit League season.
“Following a joint assessment of the damage to Charlotte Sports Park caused by Hurricane Ian, Charlotte County and the Tampa Bay Rays have determined there is not adequate time before the Rays 2023 spring training is scheduled to begin to get the park in suitable condition to host games,” the county and Rays said in a joint statement. “Charlotte County supports the Rays’ efforts to secure alternative accommodations for 2023 spring training.”
The Rays moved their spring training to Port Charlotte from St. Petersburg in 2009, and are currently under agreement to train at the Charlotte Sports Park site through the 2031 season.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the team is exploring possibly playing Spring Training games at Tropicana Field. The team also owns Al Lang Stadium, where the team held Spring Training from its inception in 1998 through the 2008 Spring. However, that site is currently occupied by the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the USL, which is also owned by the Rays, and the field is configured for soccer.