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Rays to unveil new St. Petersburg ballpark plan

The Tampa Bay Rays are set to announce a new St. Petersburg ballpark plan, with the team proposing a new 30,000-capacity facility on the current Tropicana Field site, which would then be developed.

The new ballpark is currently budgeted at $1.2 billion and be located next to Tropicana Field, which would be used until the new facility opens. Designed with fixed seating of only 30,000 or so (with room for social spaces and themed gathering areas), the new ballpark would feature a fixed roof, turf field and large openable windows a la Globe Life Field. Interestingly, the initial plan called for a single deck of seating–no upper deck, in an appearance that seems more like a large arena than a traditional ballpark. An announcement is expected tomorrow, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Sternberg had previously said the team would provide $600 million in funding for the new facility, which means $600 million more will need to come from outside source. This will likely lead to request for Pinellas County hotel/motel taxes to be part of the funding mix.

After revealing last week that talks were more advanced with St. Pete then Tampa and Hillsborough County, Sternberg provided a definite clue about the team’s plans. The team had been considering two development-oriented ballpark plans, with one location in Tampa’s Ybor City area and the other at the Tropicana Field site, part of the Historic Gas Plant site redevelopment. St. Petersburg had originally planned on developing the site without the potential of a new ballpark, but soon after taking office, Mayor Ken Welch and staff issued a new RFP on an ambitious Tropicana Field redevelopment over 86 acres, including a potential 17.3-acre new ballpark site for the Tampa Bay Rays. The proposal from the Rays and developer Hines calls for a 7-million-square-foot redevelopment plan and a mixed-use district, including more than 5,700 multi-family housing units, 1.4 million square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior living residences, a 2,500-person entertainment venue and various civic uses. According to a Hines/Rays press release, “the site would include over 20 new urban blocks and provide public benefit on over half of the land area, in addition to nine sustainability strategies that will advance the city’s priorities and position St. Petersburg as a leading city for large-scale resilience.” The new ballpark could open in 2028, when the current Tropicana Field lease ends.

Renderings of potential new St. Petersburg ballpark development courtesy Tampa Bay Rays and Gensler.

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