Rays submit redevelopment proposal for Trop site

December 2nd, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- The city of St. Petersburg received four proposals on Friday to redevelop the Tropicana Field site, including one from the Rays featuring a new downtown ballpark in a mixed-use district.

The Rays partnered with Hines, a global real estate investment, development and property manager, to present the seven-million square foot redevelopment plan for the Historic Gas Plant District. In August, the city put out a new request for proposals (RFP) to develop the area that’s currently home to Tropicana Field, the Rays’ ballpark.

A news release from Hines and the Rays noted that their plan for the 86-acre area features 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, a 2,500-person entertainment venue and various civic uses along with a new “state-of-the-art” ballpark for the Rays.

Hines has experience building Major League ballparks, having served as the construction manager for San Diego’s Petco Park.

"For decades, Hines has demonstrated the knowledge, expertise and reliability to deliver complex projects of this size and magnitude,” Rays president Matt Silverman said in a statement. “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 neighborhood that will be a wonderful home for Rays baseball for generations to come.”

Along with the Rays/Hines proposal, the city received three others from 50 Plus 1 Sports, Restoration Associates and Sugar Hill Community Partners, which was a finalist under a previous request for proposals from former St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The Rays and Hines provided renderings from the global architecture, design and planning firm Gensler, and the city will post all four proposals on its website after reviewing each one. The selection process will also include a community presentation on Jan. 4, when each group can provide an overview of their plans to the public.

Mayor Ken Welch will announce a decision near the end of January, and the city’s proposed timeline would have a development agreement presented to City Council next September or October.

"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,” Welch said in a statement. “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."

The Rays have sought to secure a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area for 15 years. They abandoned plans in 2009 for a ballpark at the Al Lang Stadium site, and they were unable to reach a deal with Hillsborough County in 2018 on a proposal for a stadium in Ybor City. In January, MLB rejected the club’s split-season, “Sister City” proposal.

The Rays’ use agreement at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. If their proposal becomes a reality, the Rays’ long-running stadium saga could finally come to an end by keeping them right where they’ve always been.

The city’s RFP requested additional emphasis on equitable redevelopment, a 17.3 acre carveout for a ballpark and specific requirements for affordable and workforce housing and adjustments in response to current economic and societal conditions and community sentiment.

Hines and the Rays said they “have embraced and incorporated the City of St. Petersburg’s goals of honoring the Historic Gas Plant District legacy and creating St. Petersburg’s next great place to live, work and play.”

“Together with the Rays, we have the opportunity to create a city-defining, diversified and inclusive placemaking village, with their new ballpark at its heart,” Michael Harrison, senior managing director at Hines, said in a statement. “We have coordinated extensively with the Rays on the vision and master-planned design and infrastructure necessary for the stadium, which is essential to the long-term vitality and economic viability of the entire project.

“We look forward to bringing our extensive experience and lessons learned from Hines’ similar projects around the globe, as well as our track record of seamless integration with the surrounding community and neighborhoods to St Petersburg.”