St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch has selected a proposal from the Tampa Bay Rays and real estate company Hines to develop the site on which Tropicana Field, the Major League Baseball team’s home stadium, currently sits.
The Rays and Hines will serve as the master developers for the Historic Gas Plant Redevelopment Project. The proposal was one of four that were received by the city, with others 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 has experience of working in Major League Baseball after serving as construction manager of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
Mayor Welch said: “I am naming the partner and a concept for a project that will last over a decade and will span multiple administrations. As the plan moves forward under my administration, we will adhere to our model of inclusive governance – asking for input from all stakeholders, including the community, to ensure that we are meeting the goals of this development. I know our St. Pete community will stay engaged and informed as this project takes shape.
“This has been a complex decision, with two particularly strong proposals from capable teams. We have received input and feedback from diverse groups and individuals, and we have received staff and consultant analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals.
“The process was detailed and transparent, and as your Mayor, I have done my homework. I am confident that this decision is the best path forward, and I am excited to announce that the City’s Partner for Progress in the development of the Historic Gas Plant District is Hines & Tampa Bay Rays.”
Rays president Brian Auld added: “Here we are, at the end of the beginning. We have made it to the starting line, and we have a long race ahead of us, but we have a team to run that race well.”
The Rays will now work with the city to finalise the terms of the agreement. The team’s current deal to play at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season, meaning a new stadium would be needed for the 2028 campaign.
The Rays have played at Tropicana Field since 1998 but a move away from St. Petersburg has been considered for some time. Last month, the City of Tampa rekindled plans to secure the Rays by releasing renderings of a proposed new stadium.
In response to Tampa’s move, the City of St. Petersburg reiterated its stance that the Historic Gas Plant District was the best location for a new stadium “for a variety of reasons” and the announcement yesterday (Monday) represents a major step forward in securing the team’s long-term future in St. Petersburg.
In December 2018, the Rays took the decision to abandon a project for a new stadium in Ybor City, Tampa after challenges related to funding. The club had unveiled plans to create the most intimate ballpark in MLB, with the headline feature of the Populous-designed stadium being a translucent roof accounting for 30% of the project cost.
In January 2022, the Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg expressed 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.