Rays' Proposed Stadium Redevelopment Plan Receives Support Of St. Petersburg Mayor

Rays’ Proposed Stadium Redevelopment Plan Receives Support Of St. Petersburg Mayor

St. Petersburg mayor Ken Welch announced this morning he’s selected the Rays’ proposed plan for redevelopment of St. Petersburg’s Gas Plant District (link via Colleen Welch of the Tampa Bay Times). The Rays had partnered with real estate development firm Hines for a proposed project, one of four such proposals submitted to the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office in early December.

The selection does not represent a firm commitment between the Rays and the city of St. Petersburg for a new stadium. The organization still needs the approval of a term sheet by the city council, and Wright indicates that’s not expected to be decided upon until at least the summer. The mayor’s office selection of the Rays’ proposal over the other three under consideration represents a step forward in those negotiations, however.

Rays team president Brian Auld said Monday the team was “fully engaged” with St. Petersburg on negotiations but cautioned they’re still in the very early stages of the process (link via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). The Rays can continue to explore other long-term stadium possibilities until/unless a term sheet is agreed upon. While Welch expressed optimism the franchise would not do so, Auld indicated the organization was “continuing the dialogue” with the City of Tampa as well.

The Rays/Hines proposal extends well beyond the construction of a new ballpark. The Rays promoted the plan as a project featuring “more than 5,700 multifamily units, 1.4 million square feet of office, 300,000 square feet of retail, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior living residences, a 2,500 person entertainment venue, and various civic uses” as part of a press release last month. The proposed new stadium would be a 30,000-seat venue at the site of current Tropicana Field. Topkin notes the project comes with an estimated price tag in the $1.2 billion range and would require agreement from the Rays, St. Petersburg city council, and Pinellas County on funding — highlighting the challenges still remaining in settling on finances in the coming months.

While far from an endpoint, the mayor’s decision represents some progress toward a potential agreement on a new stadium plan that’d keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. The franchise’s lease at Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 campaign, which obviously places a sense of urgency on any negotiations that’d involve a massive construction plan for the organization’s new venue (and associated projects). Hannah Dineen of WTSP chronicles some disparate responses among those within the St. Petersburg community regarding Welch’s decision.

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