By Thomas Marshall
Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to the Tampa Bay Rays and is arguably one of the most talked about Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums in the past few years, not just because of the team that plays there, but also because of the dire need for an upgrade.
According to Global Sports Venue Alliance, an international sports publication, the Rays lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027, and recently the city of St. Pete has called on real estate developers to submit their proposals to redesign how and where Tropicana Field will fit into downtown St. Pete.
To give developers an incentive, the city has committed to dedicating $75 million at minimum for infrastructure development according to the local city government. The city deal also provides the team with half of revenue that is generated from any kind of development on the land before 2028.
Additionally, developers have a whopping 86 acres of publicly owned land to utilize and revamp not only a new baseball stadium, but also a vibrant city that is increasingly growing.
The mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, recently commented on the update saying, “We received many quality submissions to redevelop the Tropicana Field site, and I am thankful for the time, money, and energy that each team expended.” When talking about the potential of the site the mayor said, “The future of that site, with or without baseball, has never been brighter.”
The short list of developer responses has a proven track record of executing large and mixed-use developments, according to the local city government. The shortlist of partners that started at 7 is now down to 4, those firms are JMA Ventures/Sugar Hill Community Partners, Midtown Development, Portman-Third Lake and Unicorp National Development.
Mack Feldman, vice president at Feldman Equities, a local development firm partnering with Unicorp National Development, said “due to the process being so on-going there is lot of information that still remains behind closed doors” Mack also said that the city is requesting developers submit 2 different proposals, one that includes Tropicana Field and one that does not. Mack said that the two proposals are meant to support more affordable housing in the area as well as more retail space.
Henning Larsen, an architecture and planning group working with JMA Ventures/Sugar Hill Community Partners team, put out a statement on their website reiterating that their vision includes a mix of multi-family housing, commercial office, retail, a convention center, hotels, a tech campus, and open green spaces intended to reconnect the people of St. Petersburg.
The local government is calling on the local community to input their thoughts and opinions on the development and posted on the city website stpete.org there are three ways for residents to provide input such as attend a public meeting, visit a showroom, or leave a comment online at stpete.org/trop.
The next three public meeting dates are as follows: virtual meeting April 5, in-person April 7, and another in-person meeting on April 8. Social distancing and masks will be required for the in-person meetings according to the city’s website. Feedback will be considered “until the final ribbon is cut on the Tropicana Field redevelopment” according to the city’s website.