St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch announced this morning that he has chosen Rise’s proposed plan to redevelop the St. Petersburg gas plant district (link via Colin Welch from the Tampa Bay Times). The Rays have partnered with property development company Hines for a proposed project, one of four such proposals Presenter To the St. Petersburg mayor’s office in early December.
The selection does not represent a firm commitment between the Rays and the City of St. Petersburg for a new stadium. The organization still needs to have the term sheet approved by the City Council, and Wright notes that a decision on it is not expected until at least the summer. However, the mayor’s office’s choice to propose the Rays over the other three under consideration marked a step forward in those negotiations.
Rays chairman Brian Auld said Monday that the team is “fully engaged” with St. Petersburg in negotiations, but cautioned that they are still in the early stages of the process (link via Mark Tobkin of the Tampa Bay Times). The Rays could continue to explore other long-term stadium possibilities until/unless a terms sheet is agreed. While Welch expressed optimism that the franchise would not do so, Auld noted that the organization was “continuing a dialogue” with the city of Tampa as well.
The Rays/Hines proposal extends far beyond the construction of a new football stadium. Rays promoted the plan as a project that would include “more than 5,700 multi-family units, 1.4 million square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail, 700 hotel rooms, 600 senior residences, recreational space for 2,500 people, and various civic uses” as Part of last month’s press release. The proposed new stadium would be a 30,000-seat stadium on the site of the current Tropicana Field. Topkin notes that the project comes with an estimated price tag in the $1.2 billion range and will require funding approval from the Rays, St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County — highlighting remaining challenges in settling the finances in the coming months.
Although far from the end point, the mayor’s decision marks some progress toward a potential agreement on a new stadium plan that would keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. The franchise lease at Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 campaign, which clearly puts a sense of urgency over any negotiations that might include a massive construction plan for the organization’s new venue (and associated projects). WTSP’s Hannah Dineen It chronicles some mixed response among those within St. Petersburg society regarding Welch’s decision.
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