Mayor Rick Kriseman took to social media this afternoon to clarify exactly what the Rays stand to benefit from the redevelopment of the land at Tropicana Field.
The news that the Rays received any sort of profit from re-developing the site of their current stadium was news to most of us, and during yesterday's City Council proceedings it came as a complete surprise. I'd never heard it mentioned before, and it seemed like a strange premise.
The Rays get 50% of profits for turning Tropicana Field's land into something else? That's not entirely true.
Regarding development rights at Tropicana Field: Last night, City Council clouded this issue. To be clear, the City retains one-hundred percent of all development rights once the Rays leave Tropicana Field. The team is only entitled to development rights while they play at the Dome.
What Council was asking for was one-hundred percent of the development rights while the Rays are still there. If an opportunity emerges to redevelop the land before the Rays vacate, we would discuss that situation with the Rays at that time.
Five members of Council sought to preclude any development rights for the Rays. By voting no, they did just the opposite, guaranteeing the Rays fifty percent of development rights through 2027
Tropicana Field sits on a plot of 85-acres just outside downtown St. Petersburg. If any of the land is redeveloped while the Rays occupy the stadium -- such as one of the parking lots being sold for office space -- they would receive 50% of the profits, but not if the Rays no longer use the property.
This colors the entire City Council vote in a new light.
At first it appeared the Rays stood to receive a substantial payday. Their use agreement for the property runs through 2027, and the new deal would have given the team an opportunity to leave the premises for a cost between $20-32 million. That land could then be used to expand downtown St. Petersburg, creating property tax revenue and economic activity.
The benefit from redeveloping these 85-acres is expected to be, "a far cry" from the $200 million economic impact the Rays currently have on City, reports Noah Pransky, greater than the economic impact the Rays currently have today -- which includes revenue up to $1.4 million is ticket sales for the City, and the impact of out-of-season travelers.
If the Rays got a share of those profits through 2027, then the team would be hauling in significant cash, but that's not the case. Not in the slightest.
So when we point to the discussion on "redevelopment profits" as the roadblock that led the City Council to deny the Rays' a stadium search, we're discussing the remaining years the Rays occupy Tropicana Field. And as long as the Rays are in the building and generating revenue on their own through those parking lots on the 85-acres, there wouldn't be much redevelopment in the first place.
The City Council's squabble suddenly has drastically less impact than first perceived.