The City of St. Petersburg has launched a request for proposals process for the Tropicana Field site, urging potential applications to be flexible with regards whether the land will ultimately host a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium.

Tropicana Field is currently the home ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays, but the MLB club’s long-term future at the stadium is uncertain. The RFP for the 86-acre stadium site outlines the city’s guiding principles for the project and how it envisions its next new neighbourhood.

The Tampa Bay Times newspaper said the project will be a significant one, with the city requesting that the street grid system be restored and mixed-income housing, office space, a high class hotel, tech hub and parkland included.

Developers have until January 15 to submit proposals. “We are looking forward to seeing world-class developers who are used to handling significant, major projects that are generational in their impact,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

In February, the Rays said a “meaningful step” had been taken towards securing the future of the team in the region, as a deadline was set for an agreement on the novel proposal that would see the franchise split its season with Montreal.

The Rays met with officials from the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County, with the ‘Sister City’ concept on the agenda. In June 2019, MLB gave the green light for the Rays to pursue the option of splitting its season between Florida and the Canadian city of Montreal, amid the franchise’s ongoing stadium issues.

The Rays’ current lease deal at Tropicana Field expires in 2027, and beyond that the team’s long-term home currently remains unclear. St. Petersburg has said RFP applicants must be flexible and submit proposals for the land, both with and without a ballpark.

Kriseman has maintained he still wants the Rays to remain in the city, admitting that what happens with the team will determine how quickly development can happen on the Tropicana Field site. “We want the team here in St. Petersburg,” said Kriseman, according to broadcaster Fox 13. “If it’s on that site, great. If it’s in St. Pete and not on that site, that’s okay,  too. We’ll be prepared to address that.”

Commenting on the latest news, the Rays said in a statement: “We look forward to learning the details of the RFP.”

Image: City of St. Petersburg