The abstract: Despite an attempt by Mayor Rick Kriseman to stop St. Petersburg city staffers from preparing for a workshop on the subject of building a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg city council members met Thursday to discuss that very subject, potentially by redeveloping the 85-acre Tropicana Field property. That redevelopment would combine such things as a hotel or a small convention center with a new ball park. Unfortunately the reporting on the first of what promises to be a series of workshops on the subject netted cloudy results.
Here’s what I was able to suss out:
- Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) effectively likened the workshop to one dragging his or her own feet, writing,
There really was no progress in this morning’s St. Pete council workshop on a new Rays stadium, but as council chair Charlie Gerdes identified, this was going to be merely the first workshop in a long string of them to try and build the team a new home in Pinellas County (if they want one there).
- Despite a few gaffes on the part of the writer (it’s Wengay Newton, not Newt), our friends at DRaysBay shined light on positives and negatives from Thursday’s workshop. Only one non-Trop site was discussed (Carillon), previously brought up by a private group to be a new stadium location. However, council members Charlie Gerdes and Jim Kennedy said that site is basically off the table. And while they cast a shadow on the council members unanimous resolution to work toward keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg past the year 2027, DRaysBay found favor in the idea that transit is necessary for the team’s future success. In the words of of the writer,
It is the council members opinion that St. Petersburg residents need to support a version of the Greenlight plan that includes increased bus service and local rail service in St. Pete and Tampa. An efficient and proper rail system from Tampa and throughout St. Pete would certainly benefit the Rays.
Steven Girardi (Tampa Tribune) wrote a fairly balanced article on the city council workshop. What follows is a Cliff’s Notes like (and bulleted) take on a few key points:
- “St. Petersburg council members on Thursday discussed the possibility of building a new stadium to keep the team, potentially by redeveloping the 85-acre Tropicana Field property and combining such things as a hotel or a small convention center with a new ball park,” writes Giradi, following with, “County tourist taxes and state money used to build Tropicana, and other potential sources, including the Rays, could be enough to build a new stadium, which is estimated to cost $500 to $600 million, (councilman Jim) Kennedy said.” My takeaway — and admittedly I could be completely off basis here — with this idea in mind, I’d imagine the city would offer Rays ownership the opportunity to redevelop the 85 acre property, akin to Jeff Vinik’s redevelopment of downtown Tampa. With the city and team’s share of redevelopment rights in place — per a new agreement which is being negotiated, a piece of land that would essentially be free to the Rays, and a basic idea of funding for the construction of a new stadium, this could be the most financially advantageous plan for Sternberg and company.
- “Council members voted 7-0 on a resolution saying they want to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg, even as the team is angling to look elsewhere.”
- “Several places mentioned as possibilities no longer appear likely, such the Channel District in Tampa, which Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is redeveloping, or the Carillon area in northeast St. Petersburg.”