TAMPA, Fla. — Four months after the team told St. Petersburg the Tampa Bay Rays would end the negotiating window with Tampa, a development company pitched its idea for a new waterfront ballpark.
Tampa Riverfront Sports, a development partnership, pitched to the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners artist renderings and ideas for an 18-acre, mixed-use site in West Tampa.
Architect E. William Henry and developer Geoff Weber said the site would be the "northern anchor" for the Tampa Riverwalk and help connect neighborhoods in West Tampa and Tampa Heights.
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The site would include two high-rises with ground-level retail space; a 750-bed, 30-story hotel; a 28,000-seat baseball stadium; and a 100,000-square-foot office building.
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All of these projects would roll out in phases, with the ballpark being in Phase Three.
Tampa Riverfront Sports proposed the ballpark having a retractable roof to allow fans to see "amazing sightlines looking out towards the water and the downtown core."
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn reportedly called the proposal "dead on arrival" during the commission meeting. Henry responded Thursday with an open letter to the Buckhorn, saying the site's large scale and development intensity relates to the site's ability to pay for itself.
"As you know size matters when it comes to bonding a tax increment so that funds will be available to pay for an expensive stadium," the letter reads. "As you also know taxpayers will likely oppose any increase in the sales tax above a record high eight and one-half cent. Without a large infusion of private investment the 'Rays Dilemma' remains unresolved."
Tampa Riverfront Sports said "As members of the Tampa Bay Community we are in favor of the continuation of Major League Ball in lieu of 'small ball.'"
Back in January, the Rays announced major renovations to Tropicana Field, including the closure of the upper deck. The reconfiguration eliminated the 300 level and decreased Tropicana Field's capacity to an estimated 25,000-26,000 fans.
The Rays stadium saga has been going on since spring 2008 when the team announced plans to move forward with building a new stadium. Since then, the team and officials in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have battled for funding, ideas and where a new ballpark might be.
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