Developer Darryl LeClair threw a monkey wrench into planning for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark by taking a proposal at St. Pete's Carillon Business Park off the table.
Indeed, it's only been a few months since LeClair unveiled renderings of a unique ballpark to be located in northern St. Petersburg, a facility set amongst Mediterranean Revival office buildings and apartments in an existing business park. True, there were plenty of issues with the plan -- the total ballpark site would be 17 acres, and there is a distinct lack of parking close by -- but as far as we know it was still in plan: neither the city nor the Rays had rejected it.
But to announce yesterday that the offer was off the table...well, that's just unusual. It takes years and years to get a Major League Baseball ballpark built, and patience is required. (Just ask the very patient Tampa Bay Rays front office.) To give up only two months after a public debut -- even if behind-the-scenes work had started months before -- is truly amazing, even though LeClair's plan was little more than a set of renderings and a vision: no funding plan, no firm construction plan.
"It has been an intense year,'' LeClair said recently. "I am going to tell our team, 'Enjoy the holiday season. Relax. And next year we are going to start aggressively pursuing other options for the Carillon holdings.
"To the degree we can pursue opportunities that will preserve the stadium footprint, we will."
Now, this doesn't mean a ballpark deal at the site is totally dead. But it's certainly on life support, with only a faint heartbeat present.
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