St. Pete Makes Tropicana Field Redevelopment Pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays

The City of St. Petersburg has a long history of hosting professional baseball. From amateur leagues to Major League Baseball, the roots of America’s pastime run deep.

Since 1914, more Major League spring training games have been played in St. Petersburg, FL than in any other city. And over its history, baseball in the Sunshine City has hosted legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, and Joe DiMaggio.

The tradition continued in 1998 when St. Petersburg was awarded an MLB franchise in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who have played at Tropicana Field in Downtown St. Pete since their inception. With a burst of sunshine as a logo and a “seadog” as a mascot, the Rays embody Tampa Bay and the Sunshine City.

In 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays began publicly discussing the need for a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area. But because of contracts and legalities, they were unable to search for a new stadium site. However in 2016, that stalemate ended when the St. Pete City Council passed an agreement that would allow the team to look at new stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. 

Since then the team has been quietly searching the area for a new stadium location leaving many to wonder where they will ultimately end up.

In an effort to keep the Rays in the city, the City of St. Pete and the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce launched the Baseball Forever campaign. For months, the Baseball Forever campaign has been working to bring community leaders together to convince the Rays to build a new stadium in Downtown St. Petersburg at the current site of Tropicana Field. Their efforts were used to create a master plan for Tropicana Field by studying the area’s need and the economic development potential that could be achieved by redeveloping the site.

Yesterday, the Baseball Forever campaign and Mayor Rick Kriseman formally presented their plan to the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Their proposal calls for redeveloping the current 86-acre Tropicana Field site into a mixed-use destination district that will feature housing, office buildings, retail spaces, public parks and plazas, and even a research and tech campus. Of the 86-acres approximately 60% will be used for new development while the remaining 40% will be uses for public spaces and parks.  And of course, the proposal calls for a new baseball stadium in the northeast corner of the site.

The plan touches on six elements that the Rays deemed crucial for a new stadium site: a catalyst for development, local authenticity, regional connectivity, site accessibility, size & geometry, and financial feasibility & development.

Only time will tell which site the Rays end up selecting but anyone who knows Downtown St. Pete can attest to the walkability and bright future that the Tropicana Field site has. If you’d like to read the entire plan or support the Baseball Forever campaign to keep the Rays in Downtown St. Pete, visit their website.

Check out the vision for the redevelopment of Tropicana Field including a new Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium: