#SBS24 next month in Manchester! Welcome Wembley Stadium, Oxford United, Juventus FC, Sodexo Live!, Croke Park, Sviby, Stadio Algarve, Keppie Design, Everbank Stadium, Kulture City, PAM, Duracell/Procell, Trusts Arena, Worldpay, Suncorp Stadium... Join them
Driving your revenues, sustainability and fan experience: #SBS24 – 15th annual TheStadiumBusiness Summit in Manchester on 17-18-19 June

Design & Development

Rays lift lid on ballpark, mixed-use development vision

Images: Tampa Bay Rays/Hines

The Tampa Bay Rays have given a fresh look at the $6.5bn (£5.19bn/€6.03bn) Historic Gas Plant District Development project that will include a new stadium for the MLB franchise.

Officials from the Rays and Hines, its global development partner, presented to the St. Petersburg City Council the agreement negotiated with Mayor Kenneth T. Welch and his administration for the venture back in September.

Members of the Hines Historic Gas Plant District Partnership development team discussed details of the agreement and answered questions from the City Council, which is expected to vote on the agreement this summer.

The presentation at the Council’s committee of the whole meeting included new renderings of the development and several refinements to the agreement, including an increase of affordable/workforce housing from the prior 1,200 to 1,250.

Affordable housing terms and concerns that the deal grants the developer too much power were just two of the issues raised at yesterday’s meeting, according to local media. Voting on the deal was originally expected to happen this month, with the Rays and Hines having stated that construction on the new ballpark need to start in November to allow it to be ready in time for Opening Day of the 2028 MLB season.

In January 2023, Welch selected a proposal from the Rays and Hines to develop the site on which Tropicana Field, the team’s current home, is located. 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.

Since Welch selected the Hines and Rays proposal nearly 16 months ago, the development team has incorporated input from business groups, community organisations, nonprofits and former residents of the Historic Gas Plant neighbourhood and their descendants.

They claim the Historic Gas Plant Development project has widespread support as reflected in a scientific opinion poll, dozens of letters of support, and backing from groups such as the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the St. Petersburg branch of civil rights group the NAACP.

The Rays’ September agreement with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County includes a new $1.3bn ballpark, with officials seeking to deliver on an over decade-long effort to develop a new stadium.

The ballpark will have a capacity of around 30,000 for baseball, with the ability to accommodate up to 35,000 for other events, providing what the Rays claim will be the most intimate fan experience in MLB.

The Rays have said they will pay for more than half the cost of the ballpark and all cost overruns, which will be the focus of another City Council committee meeting in the next several weeks.

The wider project will include nearly eight million square feet of mixed-use development. Overall, the project will invest more than $6.5bn in St. Petersburg over 20 years and be the largest mixed-use development in Tampa Bay history.

Aside from the ballpark, the Historic Gas Plant District Development plan’s targets include:

  • 5,400 residential units
  • 1,250 affordable/workforce housing units
  • 750 hotel rooms
  • 1.4 million square feet of Class A office/medical/medical office space
  • 750,000 square feet of retail space, including opportunities for small businesses and a grocery
  • 90,000 square feet of conference, ballroom and meeting space
  • A 4,000-6,000 seat concert/entertainment venue
  • 14 acres of green/open space

Tampa Bay Rays president, Brian Auld, said: “The approach to placemaking, to community gathering, to the environment, to workforce development and job creation, to intentional equity are all best in class; the product of some of the smartest, most thoughtful, and caring people in the world working together to do something special.”

Hines senior managing director, Michael Harrison, added: “Our mission is to create a great place for St. Pete. Placemaking is more than combining office, apartments and retail into the same block. It is creating a place that focuses on the human experience.

“We believe that it is a place that embraces the local culture and is authentic. Most of all, it is about creating a place that people want to come to shop, eat, play or just hang out – whether it’s a Rays game day or a Tuesday in February.”