ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — The back-and-forth regarding the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site continues to push into 2021 as Mayor Rick Kriseman says the plan to add a consultant was "derailed."
A proposal was made to St. Pete City Council to bring in an "experienced consultant familiar with redevelopment endeavors of this scope," but the city's mayor says things did not go as planned.
"Yesterday, this goal was unfortunately derailed, but we are not deterred," Kriseman wrote in a Facebook post.
The city began its search for world-class developers to reimagine the 86 acres located between 5th Ave. S and 1st Ave S., and 16th Street S. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. St back in July of 2020.
Regardless of who gets the job, Kriseman is looking for the project to assist the city and community to ensure social equity and opportunity in the build.
"As we pursue our brightest future, we will move forward with the history of that site at the forefront," Kriseman wrote.
He's talking about the historically Black Gas Plant neighborhood that was cleared to make room for Tropicana Field.
Rev. Wayne Thompson of First Baptist Institutional Church told 10 Tampa Bay reporter Emerald Morrow, that at the time, neighbors were told the land they sold would bring in new business and help the Black community.
No matter where things stand today, one thing is clear, Kriseman says the site redevelopment will push on with or without a stadium.
"The community, not the Tampa Bay Rays, not the developer, not the elected officials, must come first throughout this process," he added.
But how did we get here? Let's catch you up to speed:
After officially terminating its negotiating window with Tampa, the Rays were effectively locked into their lease at Tropicana Field, which does not expire until 2027.
In 2019, the idea of the Rays becoming a two-city team with Montreal first surfaced. But, the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the possibility of that plan was put on the back burner, according to the team's president, Brian Auld.
The Rays also threw a curveball to the cities plan for the redevelopment of the land surrounding Tropicana Field, with the Tampa Bay Times reporting, the team intended to argue that construction would get in the way during games.
Mayor Kriseman responded at the time, saying:
"We are certain that there is development which could occur on the Tropicana Field site that would not impair the Rays’ ability to play games and have fans attend those games – development that would not be piecemealed, but be the beginning of a master plan for the site. And think about this – The City of St. Petersburg’s interest in the land lasts forever. The Rays’ interest is for seven more years. In 2028, the Rays get zero dollars from any redevelopment that occurs on the land. As such, the clock is ticking. Not for us, but for the Rays."
Little could either party predict that the pandemic would still push on a year later, with in-person attendance restricted for safety reasons.
But, it seems the tone has taken a turn, as he told 10 Tampa Bay in July of 2020 that the Rays are both aware and supportive of the redevelopment plan.
“We want the team here in St. Petersburg. If it’s on that site great. If they’re in St. Pete and it’s not on that site that’s OK too. We’re prepared to address that.”
Developers were asked to draw up plans with and without a stadium.
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