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Renderings: Here Are The Proposals For Redeveloping Tropicana Field

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday the city is moving forward with plans to remake the Tropicana Field site without the Tampa Bay Rays.

The baseball team has played at the Trop since its first season in 1998. The Rays’ lease on Tropicana Field, which sits on city-owned land, expires in 2027.

Over the past few years, the team has begun looking for a home outside St. Petersburg. A 2018 plan for a new ballpark in Ybor City fell through. The following year, Rays owner Stu Sternberg proposed splitting seasons between the Tampa Bay region and Montreal.

In June 2020, the city issued a request for proposal (RFP) for public-private partnerships to turn the site into a mixed-use development. The city stipulated that any developer must “identify what part of the Property it would reserve for a new stadium if the City and Rays enter into an agreement for the Rays to stay on site.”

During a press conference Tuesday, Kriseman said the team did not participate in the RFP process. Instead, he said the Rays asked the city for full control of the stadium site and 50% control of a neighboring parcel.

Kriseman said doing so would make him choose between the team and the community.

“We want to get to a place if we're able to resolve something where it's a win-win,” he said. “But if I have to choose, I'm always choose the community. But I think there's a way of resolving it where I’m not facing that kind of a choice.”

Rays officials dispute Kriseman’s account, saying their proposal was just a starting point.

“It was meant to initiate a discussion, not a take-it-or-leave-it,” team president Brian Auld told the Tampa Bay Times. “Not a we-have-to-have-complete-control of the land.”

Kriseman later tweeted: “I want the Rays to make St. Pete their forever home. If not St. Pete, then Tampa Bay. I am encouraged the Rays want to play in St. Pete. I cannot, however, privatize this land. Especially this land. I hope the Rays will work with the chosen developer.”

In the meantime, public comment is now open on the RFPs. Kriseman says he will also seek feedback on the proposals from the city council and community leaders.

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Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by PRNDI, the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.