ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays would like to head back to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this season for an encore at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, so they have asked the St. Petersburg City Council for approval.
All Rays' home games played outside of Tropicana Field must be approved by the city council. The proposed series against the Blue Jays would take place April 22-24. The council will vote on the team's request on Jan. 24.
The idea to move the games was hatched during the 2006 season when the Rays were searching for a new Spring Training home. Tampa Bay had scouted the Disney fields as a potential spot, but it had to look elsewhere because the Braves play there each spring. The Rays announced in September 2006 that they will relocate their Spring Training to Port Charlotte, Fla., beginning with the 2009 season, but the thought of bringing big league baseball to Central Florida remained an opportunity the club decided was too good to pass up. The Rays felt it afforded them an opportunity to expand their fan base in the central part of the state.
"This series remains a very important part of our ongoing efforts to expand our fan base throughout the state and further establish St. Petersburg as Florida's baseball capital," said Rays president Matt Silverman.
The Rays swept a three-game series from the Rangers at the Disney Sports Complex May 15-17 in the first regular-season Major League games played in the Orlando area.
"We were very pleased with every aspect of last year's series at the Disney Sports Complex, particularly the experience we were able to provide for fans who were attending their first Rays games," Silverman said.
Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex is a 220-acre facility that plays host to more than 170 amateur and professional events each year. It is located adjacent to Disney's resorts and theme parks in Lake Buena Vista -- about 90 miles northeast of St. Petersburg, 70 miles northeast of Tampa and 20 miles southwest of downtown Orlando.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.