Cloud over ‘Rays’ future in ‘Sunshine City’



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St. Petersburg Tropicana Field Image: tampabay.com

The City of St. Petersburg in Florida, US, has put in a request for proposals (RFP) process for the Tropicana Field site, urging potential applications to be flexible as regards whether the land will ultimately house a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium.

Tropicana Field, also commonly known as ‘The Trop’, is a domed stadium located in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States, that has been the home of the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB) since the team’s inaugural season in 1998.

The Tampa Bay Rays are an American professional baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League (AL) East division. Since its inception, the team’s home venue has been Tropicana Field.

Major League Baseball is an American professional baseball organization and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in Major League Baseball: 15 teams in the National League and 15 in the American League.

Though Tropicana Field is presently the home ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays, but the MLB club’s long-term future at the stadium is shrouded in uncertainty. The RFP for the 86-acre stadium site outlines the City’s guiding principles for the development and how it visualizes its next new neighborhood.

Media reports stated that the project will hold much significance, with the City requesting that the street grid system be restored and also seeking that mixed-income housing, office space, a high class hotel, tech hub and parkland be included.

Developers have been given a deadline of January 15, 2021, to submit their proposals.

“We are looking forward to seeing world-class developers who are used to handling significant, major projects that are generational in their impact,” Mayor of St Petersburg Rick Kriseman said.

In February, the Rays said a “meaningful step” had been taken towards securing the future of the team in the region, as a deadline was set for an agreement on the novel proposal that would see the franchise split its season with Montreal.

To discuss the ‘Sister City’ concept, the Rays met up with City of Tampa and Hillsborough County functionaries. In June 2019, MLB gave the green light for the Rays to pursue the option of splitting its season between Florida and the Canadian city of Montreal, amid the stadium issues which the franchise is facing.

The Rays’ present lease deal at Tropicana Field expires in 2027, and beyond that the picture is still not clear as to which will be the Tampa Bay Rays long-term residence. St. Petersburg has made it clear that RFP applicants must be flexible and submit proposals for the land, both with and without a ballpark.

Kriseman has maintained that he still wants the Rays to remain in the City, pointing out that what happens with the team’s future will determine how quickly development can take place on the Tropicana Field site.

Mayor Kriseman told mediapersons, “We want the team here in St. Petersburg. If it’s on that site, great. If it’s in St. Pete and not on that site, that’s okay, too. We’ll be prepared to address that.”

The Rays sent out a statement stating, “We look forward to learning the details of the RFP.”

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