The Rays rolled out their latest stadium plan on Friday late afternoon, meeting the final and extended deadline set by St. Petersburg’s Mayor for proposals to redevelop the 86-acre plot that takes up a vast amount of downtown St. Petersburg.
Usually moments of new stadium renderings are opportunities for celebration, a red carpet with VIP’s and the media in tow.
This time, however, there has been little fanfare. Perhaps it’s best that the Rays keep this quiet. They had a VIP rollout celebration of the Ybor City stadium, and that plan fizzled. They had the big reveal at the Dali Museum that the team wanted to leave the region for half the year, and that plan was vetoed.
Perhaps the equivalent of a quiet ceremony at City Hall for a second marriage is, indeed, the best way to reveal these early plans, even though of all their proposals, this one is the least surreal.
In this go-around, the Rays stay in Tampa Bay - and even stay in St. Petersburg - by leading the effort to develop the Tropicana Field site into a vibrant urban landscape, and by no doubt profiting a good amount off it too.
The Rays might be trapped by their so-called iron clad use agreement that keeps them at Tropicana Field, but the city is trapped by it too, thanks to a clause that requires the team’s permission for (and allows the Rays to take half the proceeds from) anything built on the Tropicana Field site while they are there.
In the only thought piece generated by the Tampa Bay Times thus far on this proposal for redevelopment from the Rays, the profit-sharing clause was the focus of the leading paper’s reaction and skepticism:
And since the team is entitled to share in 50 percent of whatever revenues are realized from potential redevelopment, the city would essentially be paying the Rays to leave town if stadiumless development starts before 2028. On top of all that, the Rays could object to any ongoing redevelopment as a hindrance to their current business plan, and that would potentially be settled through litigation.
Kriseman tried to negotiate with the Rays, and he said their demands were outrageous. Past mayors Bill Foster and Rick Baker also were not fond of their dealings with the team.
So where does that leave things today?
Somewhere between limbo and deep doo-doo would probably be the most accurate description.
Indeed, on the Monday morning following the proposal from the Rays — which is in all likelihood the leading bid for a new stadium in St. Petersburg — of the 30 articles on the Sports tab of the Tampa Bay Times this stadium is discussed in none of them.
Details of the stadium itself have not yet been announced. Populous will design the stadium; they are a global leader in stadium design, and have designed 20 MLB ballparks, including those in San Francisco, Minnesota, and most importantly Atlanta, which has a similar intent to the design as the Rays will have of integrating a stadium into an overall larger development project.
We do know, however, that the stadium will have a fixed roof but, much like the earlier Ybor City plan, walls that can open, according to Chief Development Officer Melanie Lenz.
Perhaps once a stadium design is finalized, we’ll get all the pomp and circumstance appropriate for a new stadium plan’s announcement, but then again maybe not.
Following the Rays sort-of divorce from St. Petersburg in 2016 when they gained permission to seek a stadium on the other side of the Bay, the Rays, their fans, and the various city officials have now been through new stadium announcement events in 2018 (Ybor) and 2019 (Dali). After failures on both fronts, the Rays now seem ready to renew their vows with the City of St. Pete, but is anyone in power taking them seriously?