(Photo credit: Janelle Irwin)
(Photo credit: Janelle Irwin)

On Monday, HKS — the architectural firm tasked with creating the redevelopment master plan for the 86-acre Tropicana Field site — released a conceptual model of what a redeveloped and reimagined Trop property could look like.

The potential location (pictured above) for the new facility is in the northeast corner of the property where U-Haul currently resides. It’s worth noting, the planning process has yet to be concluded, rather this a very preliminary idea of potential site layout. The stadium depicted in the model is not the actual design, therefore a conclusion of what a new facility may look like — be that of an open air stadium, a roofed facility, or some derivation thereof — should not be drawn.

The rest of the site infuses retail, office, housing and green space into the concept that, to borrow from Janelle Irwin (Tampa Bay Business Journal), shuts down artificial borders now created by a giant stadium and a sea of asphalt.

The open spaces — which could be used for arts, green space, trails and parks — would split the existing site from east to west, with another split bisecting the center north to south.

Part of the concept would restore Booker Creek which could be a focal point of the design. Booker Creek is not likely to be a candidate for activities on the water, however, due to its size.

The most important component of the redevelopment plan is the inclusion of expanded transportation and transit access to and from the site, utilizing the future Bus Rapid Transit planned for First Avenues North and South which would connect to the downtown ferry service set to launch in three months.

Another rather ambitious aspect of the plan consists of the elimination of Interstate 175, which would be turned it into a promenade boasting condos and storefronts — doing away with the literal and metaphorical barrier standing between downtown St. Petersburg and the economically disparaged neighborhoods to the south. That too could be achieved by creating an overland park connecting Campbell Park, bolstered by the forthcoming skatepark, to the redeveloped Tropicana Field site.

The concept is somewhat contingent upon the notion that the Rays will continue to play baseball at the current location – something that’s not guaranteed. The ball club is considering a bevy of potential sites on both sides of the bay. The site will be redeveloped with our without a stadium…although one with a new facility would be the operable outcome.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman — as well as those involved with the Baseball Forever campaign — is confident that the current site, reimagined and redeveloped, is the best location for Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay. In an ideal world, team leadership will come to the same conclusion.

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