The Tampa Bay Rays are among the best teams in Major League Baseball but continue to struggle at the gate. Some officials and many fans say the blame lies squarely with Tropicana Field.
On Friday, the team got a first look at one developer's plan for a possible new stadium.
The CityScape group, led by St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair and his company Echelon, presented its plans for a new baseball stadium in the Carillon business park to Rays and city of St. Petersburg officials.
It’s the first images we've seen of what a new Rays stadium in Carillon would look like.
LeClair's vision is for a mixed-use stadium, meaning it would connect to retail, hotel and dining facilities. City officials said that could help off-set the estimated $500 million to $600 million cost.
“When you bring in a hotel, condos, mixed used retail, commercial offices, you spread the cost among a lot of people, so it does not have to be born by the taxpayers. That’s what makes it exciting,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.
It would be an enhanced baseball experience with upscale bars, restaurants, and rooftop viewing. The 35,000 stadium seats would be on a sharp incline, allowing for closer to the field views and more suites.
"I thought it was very interesting and exciting. It's always great to have local ideas on how to keep the Rays,” said St. Petersburg City Council member Leslie Curran.
Developers said their plans also include upgrades to roads around the proposed stadium. People who live nearby said it could be a big boost.
“I think it would be great for the area. It would bring more businesses in, a lot more people. So I think it would be really good,” said Marsha Madigan, resident.
“It might bring in more people, more fans to the games, which I think would be a good thing. This would be a good area as far as central location,” said Charles Stanford, resident.
Residents said drawbacks would be an increase in traffic and growing pains.
“More construction would definitely stink but at the end of it all, including the fixing of the street, it would all be good in the long run,” Nicholas Dillon, resident.
The Rays are currently under contract with the city of St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field until 2027.
Council members were impressed by the plan but its cautious optimism because of the money.
There were two representatives from the Rays there to listen. Nobody was able ask any questions because of the contract between the city and the Rays.
According to Bay News 9's partner newspaper the Tampa Bay Times, the CityScape team has been quietly working on the stadium plan for two years.
The team has said it is only interested in discussing stadium options in St. Petersburg if the city frees them to also pursue sites anywhere in the Bay area.