Mar 27, 2024 - News

As new Rays season starts, stadium plans remain uncertain

Illustration of a home plate with a little chimney

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Tampa Bay Rays proudly declared they're "here to stay" six months ago, but the deal to redevelop St. Petersburg's Historic Gas Plant District still isn't official.

Why it matters: Construction on a $1.3 billion stadium is supposed to start in November β€” right after the season that begins tomorrow β€” to ensure a new ballpark will be ready for Opening Day 2028. The team's lease at Tropicana Field ends in 2027.

  • But one aspect of the deal could take the whole thing down: affordable housing.

Between the lines: The Rays, developers and city officials were supposed to have an agreement by now, but with the city projected to spend more than $700 million on the project, officials want to be sure they're not taking on debt to repeat history.

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting the Miami-based Community Justice Project and Faith in Florida in pushing back against the project, saying it doesn't sufficiently prioritize affordable housing and support of the Black community.

Flashback: Hundreds of Black families and businesses were pushed out of the district when Tropicana Field was built in the 1980s, after promises of jobs and equitable development never came to fruition.

  • "This new development runs the risk of repeating those same sins," Faith in Florida organizer Dylan Dames told Axios.

The latest: Last week, city leaders nearly doubled the money allotted for attorneys working on the redevelopment, per the St. Pete Catalyst.

The intrigue: City Council seems to be tipping in favor of the plan, but the vote could be split if four members don't approve, the Times reported.

What's ahead: If the deal is approved by the city in May, the county commission would vote to commit $312.5 million in tourist tax funding to the stadium.


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