It’s not as though there are plenty of downtown Tampa land parcels suitable for a new ballpark, but the potential move of a large flour mill could get things rolling for a new Tampa Bay Rays facility.
A mill owned and operated by ConAgra is a major presence in downtown Tampa in many ways: besides the actual building itself — which occupies several square blocks, leading to lots of dead-end streets — a rail spur runs through the area, making other lots unusable as well. (Though, to be honest, the flour mill probably has less of an impact than described in this article: it also sits between a raised Florida tollroad and a main drag, Meridian.) Take out the flour mill, and you have a direct link between the rest of downtown and the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Which is why the potential moving of the flour mill is important: there’s a domino effect that also puts several square blocks of underused surface parking in play. Large parcels of land in an urban core, of course, is a developers’ dream, a chance to create a signature project that could bring new residential, retail and housing to downtown Tampa. It could also mean an expansion of Tampa Bay Times Forum, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL). Or it could mean a mixed-use development anchored by a new ballpark.
All of this is highly speculative, of course; ConAgra has only hinted it’s interested in moving the flour mill and certainly has not committed to any shift. And, as we noted, it’s not as though there aren’t other appropriate spots for a ballpark in downtown Tampa — like directly across from the flour mill, on the other side of the tollway. And there’s the whole issue of addressing the Tropicana Field lease for the Tampa Bay Rays. So don’t get your hopes up just yet.
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