Jan 4, 2023 - News

Big developers pitch Tropicana Field site plans to St. Pete

Tropicana field at Sunset

Aerial view of the Tropicana Field on May 28. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Four vastly different visions for 86 acres in downtown St. Pete will be on display tonight as developers try to win the favor of residents and leaders in hopes they'll be picked to redevelop prime city-owned land around Tropicana Field.

Why it matters: The multibillion-dollar Trop redevelopment is expected to be one of the largest construction projects in the country and will have a big impact on the future of Florida's fifth-largest city.

  • The development could ease the affordable housing crisis, dictate the future of pro baseball in the region and impact property values for miles around.

The big picture: We gave you an overview of the four proposals last month — from Sugar Hill; the Rays and Houston-based Hines; 50 Plus 1 Sports; and GPD Restoration Associates.

The latest: Axios Tampa Bay got a sneak peak at the presentation from Restoration Associates — a group of local philanthropists and businesspeople — who propose replacing I-175 with what they're calling an "Intermodal Center."

  • The structure — with 6,800 parking spots — will let drivers park, then jump onto an autonomous tram or moving walkway to and from the stadium or around the development.
  • The aim is to remove auto traffic from the development, reducing carbon pollution and traffic conflicts.
A rendering of the Tropicana Field redevelopment.
A rendering of Restoration Associates' proposed redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site, with the intermodal center in the foreground. Image: Courtesy of RGA

Between the lines: The center would allow connection to future passenger rail — long proposed between Tampa and St. Pete — and it would create a retail thoroughfare between the intermodal center and SunRunner bus rapid transit stops on the north side of the development.

  • It would also reconnect the neighborhoods to the south, like Deuces, that were cut off from downtown when I-175 was built, which is a priority for Mayor Ken Welch.

Flashback: In 1982, in hopes of luring a Major League Baseball team, the St. Pete City Council approved razing the Gas Plant District to make way for a new stadium.

  • Construction started five years later, and the wildly over-budget $138 million Florida Suncoast Dome opened in 1990.
  • In 1995, Tampa Bay was awarded a baseball team. The Devil Rays played their first official game in 1998.

What they're saying: Welch and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor discussed their competing efforts to keep the Rays in their cities at a "State of the Bay" event Tuesday.

  • "We've got one option here," Welch told Bay News 9. "One best option to put on the table and the Rays will either take that or not and if we don't make it, we certainly hope Tampa will be successful."

If you go: The public is invited to hear presentations from the four developers at The Coliseum tonight, 5:30pm-9pm.

  • Register to watch via Zoom here. Questions and feedback can be submitted in writing or electronically.

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