Design & Development

Rays submit proposal for redevelopment of Tropicana Field site

Featured image credit: Tampa Bay Rays

The City of St. Petersburg, Florida has received a proposal from the Tampa Bay Rays and real estate company Hines for the development of the site on which the Major League Baseball team’s Tropicana Field stadium currently sits.

The proposal is one of four that have been received by the city, with others having been submitted by 50 Plus 1 Sports, Restoration Associates, and Sugar Hill Community Partners.

The proposal from the Rays and Hines features a “state-of-the-art” ballpark for the team, as well as 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, and a 2,500-person entertainment venue. Hines previously served as the construction manager of Petco Park, home of MLB’s San Diego Padres.

Rays president Matt Silverman said: “Hines has been acquainted with this site for 15 years, and we know that Hines will be here 15 years from now, fulfilling its promises and vision for the Historic Gas Plant District.

“St. Petersburg deserves a world-class development partner with a track record of steering projects through the inevitable economic cycles we will face. With Hines leading this effort, we gain greater certainty of quality and timely completion. Together we can create a vibrant, equitable neighbourhood that will be a wonderful home for Rays baseball for generations to come.”

The city announced in June that it would be launching a fresh request for proposals process for the 86-acre site of Tropicana Field after deciding not to proceed with the previous RFP. The original RFP outlined the city’s guiding principles for the project and how it envisioned its next new neighbourhood.

The process had been reduced to two contenders for the developers contract – Midtown and Sugar Hill – but St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth Welch opted to start afresh. The city said that much had changed since first contracting with HKS Architects in 2016 to develop a conceptual site masterplan.

The concept including a new ballpark was completed in March 2017 and the concept without a new ballpark was completed in November 2018. From there, the city spent much of 2019 and early 2020 evaluating sustainable and equitable best practices for the site before opening the RFP in July 2020.

Since then, the city has pointed to the fact it has suffered through the economic effects of a pandemic and is currently in the midst of a nationwide affordable housing crisis. It said that as these effects were not fully realised in the original plans a new set of priorities and considerations should be given to the site.

Citing the stadium model as one of the key priorities of the new RFP, the city said it would be soliciting proposals containing a new baseball stadium, in lieu of including proposals that contemplate a site without one. It said it believes this model would “provide certainty” as it relates to the Rays.

On Friday, the city confirmed it had received four proposals before the deadline and again emphasised the importance of a 17.3-acre carve-out for a baseball stadium, along with equitable redevelopment, affordable and workforce housing, and new details that respond to current economic and societal conditions and community sentiment.

The selection process will include a community presentation on January 4, when the public will be invited to hear each proposer provide an overview of their respective plans. A final decision will be announced by Mayor Welch at his first State of the City address, which is slated for the end of January.

Mayor Welch said: “We commend 50 Plus 1 Sports, Hines & Tampa Bay Rays, Restoration Associates, and Sugar Hill Community Partners for their diligent efforts to submit proposals that will fuel inclusive progress and equitable development for future generations who will live, visit and do business in our city.

“We will review the proposers’ plans with a keen eye on their interpretation of affordable and workforce housing; office and meeting space; arts and culture; research, innovation, and education; recreation; open space, healthy and sustainable development; and intentional equity. We look forward to engaging the community as we determine the future of this historically and economically vital part of St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay Region.”

In January, Rays principal owner, Stuart Sternberg, expressed his frustration after MLB rejected the franchise’s innovative ‘Sister City’ venture with Montreal, forcing the team to refocus its efforts on securing a new home in the local region.