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Old Posted Nov 18, 2007, 11:33 PM
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Tampa / St. Petersburg | New Tampa Bay Rays stadium

This broke last Friday here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. With the Rays unveiling their new uniforms (a ripoff of other current team unis), the news also slipped that the team has started working on a plan to move the Rays out of Tropicana Field by 2012 -- to a new waterfront ballpark on the site where (minor league) Al Lang Field currently resides.

...Which isn't a very large footprint for a major league ballpark.


Rays on the bay?




The $450-million project hinges on the sale of Tropicana Field and public financing.

By AARON SHAROCKMAN and MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writers
Published November 10, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay Rays have developed a bold plan to build a $450-million downtown stadium that would give fans waterfront views and protection from rain.

The stadium, to be built on the site of Al Lang Field, would seat about 35,000 and could open as early as 2012. Hitters there would have a chance to send the ball into the bay.



Financing is still being worked out, but a primary source would be proceeds of the sale of the Tropicana Field site to a developer who would build a large retail/residential complex there. The Rays also would make a contribution, perhaps as much as $150-million, covering one-third of the cost.

The team also would seek legislative approval for $60-million of state money in future sales tax revenue from food, beer and merchandise sales in the new park.

The plan faces several hurdles. The city charter requires voter approval of any deal involving a long-term lease of city-owned waterfront property such as Al Lang. The plan also may involve the city selling the Al Lang site to Pinellas County to avoid property taxes; a similar deal was constructed to create a tax shelter for Tropicana Field.

That, too, would have to pass voters' muster at a time when government budgets are tight and taxpayers are calling for tax relief.

State and city officials declined to discuss the plan.

Asked about the stadium plan, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said: "If it can get done, I'm open to it." He declined to comment further.

After the St. Petersburg Times broke the story Friday on its Web site, tampabay.com, the Rays called a late-night news conference at which president Matt Silverman confirmed that the team was going forward with the plan.

"We are excited about the possibilities of these projects, and the economic benefits that they would bring to our community," Silverman said. "We would certainly involve the public in any process related to this."

The new stadium would be open to the elements but could be covered with sail-like material on a cabling system when necessary. Fans or other devices would provide cooling, and some seating areas would have air-conditioning.

The stadium would be built on the site of the longtime spring training facility the team is leaving next year. But the new field would be shifted so that balls hit over the rightfield fence would splash into the water, as is the case at the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park.

Site has pros, cons

The design is expected to be traditional, with a retro look common among new baseball stadiums. The smaller capacity, about 10,000 less than Tropicana Field's when the team began play there, also reflects a recent trend in ballpark design.

The Rays have shown an artist's rendering of the stadium to state and city officials, and likely will have a model when they make a public announcement of their plans, probably in the next month.

The Al Lang site would be a tight fit for a major-league stadium, with only a little more than 10 acres available. That's about the same as Fenway Park in Boston and slightly less than AT&T Park in San Francisco.

It would leave little or no room for on-site parking. Fans would have to use downtown garages and makeshift lots in the area, and the team would be deprived of a revenue source. Bayshore Drive would be closed and be integrated into the site, perhaps as the outfield warning track.

The Rays consider the Al Lang site their top choice for a new stadium for several reasons: Not only could it evolve into a picturesque signature home, but it also would allow the team to get a new stadium without having to fight to get out of its lease at Tropicana Field, which runs through 2027.

The lease bars the Rays from moving anywhere without the city's permission, making an in-city move much more feasible than elsewhere in the Tampa Bay area, such as the state Fairgrounds location in eastern Hillsborough County.

The city still owes more than $100-million on nearly 18-year-old Tropicana Field, a debt not scheduled to be paid off until 2025. The county also is contributing money through a hotel tax.

Though Sternberg's group has spent millions upgrading Tropicana Field since taking over in October 2005, he has also maintained that the team eventually will need a new stadium. As recently as May, he indicated he didn't expect it to happen anytime soon. In July, Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy said a new stadium was not a top league priority.

But, working on their own and in relative secrecy, the Rays have clearly accelerated that timetable.

"First and foremost, as Stuart Sternberg has said repeatedly, we will not demand a new stadium," Silverman said. "Secondly, Stuart has said on numerous occasions that Tropicana Field will not be a viable facility by the end of our lease term."

A new stadium could become more of a destination and boost the team's attendance, which has consistently ranked among the league's worst.

A key to the deal would be the sale of the Tropicana Field and parking lot land. There are grand plans for the mixed-use redevelopment, with talk of an upscale, sophisticated retail and entertainment area that would create numerous jobs combined with affordable workforce housing. The hope is to get a major developer involved.

Officials unaware

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has said the city is unlikely to provide additional funding for a new stadium. His position reflects a decline in sentiment nationally for the public to subsidize sports teams.

"I know the Rays have looked at a lot of options," Baker said. "And I'm sure they're continuing to look at their options."

Al Lang -- formally known as Progress Energy Park -- will be without a tenant starting in 2009 when the Rays move their spring training facilities to Charlotte County. The city is unlikely to seek a replacement team for spring training.

The process to build a stadium at the Al Lang site was made easier in August, when the City Council agreed to table a proposal that would have added development protections there.

St. Petersburg economic development officials said they wanted more flexibility for the site, but publicly, they never explained why.

Rick Mussett, the city's senior economic development official, would not address questions about a possible new stadium on that site this week: "I can't comment about that," he said.

The circle of people who are involved in the Rays talks so far is small.

Gov. Charlie Crist met privately with team officials on Aug. 17 in St. Petersburg, but he has not commented publicly about the nature of that discussion. He was traveling in Chile on Friday and did not return requests seeking comment.

Many local elected leaders -- from county commissioners to City Council members to state legislators -- said they've heard nothing more than rumors regarding a new stadium. If talks are under way, it's not with them.

"I have heard it come up from time to time, in the last year," said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who said he heard rumors again on Thursday. "But there's no formal talks, as far as I know."

"I'd be surprised if it is that far along," said Don Shea, the director of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

"No one has approached me in any way officially about that," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

Fasano, who oversees economic development spending in the Senate, is someone the Rays surely would seek out.

Any state money for a new stadium would go through him. He sees it as an uphill battle.

"I don't see how anything like that would happen in such a tight budget year," Fasano said.

The Florida Marlins have tried and failed to win the extra tax break, despite the support of House Speaker Marco Rubio. The proposal calls for the first $2-million in sales taxes generated by the stadium each year for 30 years to go toward construction and maintenance.

Rays executives are leaning toward hiring one of the state's most powerful lobbyists, Brian Ballard, to increase the team's presence in Tallahassee.

Could the support of Gov. Crist, who calls St. Petersburg home, put the Rays over the top?

"When you have the governor living a few blocks from the stadium that's helpful, but it's a tough road," said Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, who admits he has heard rumors about the Al Lang site.

Scant support

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, said he opposes using taxpayer dollars to help build a new stadium in St. Petersburg.

"Obviously, I can't imagine anybody in this period of time, why anyone would have any serious interest in using taxpayers' money to build a stadium when we're trying to fix a property tax problem and an insurance problem," Jones said. "Right now, the taxpayers are more concerned about making a mortgage and putting groceries on the table than putting money into a sports complex."

Major League Baseball officials are aware of the Rays' interest in a new stadium but are not party to the proposed plan. MLB officials have helped teams lobby for funding, including for several years in South Florida without success, but do not contribute financially.

The Rays, clearly, had hoped to keep news of the stadium quiet until their official announcement next month. They hastily arranged for a 9 p.m. news conference Friday at Tropicana Field at which Silverman spoke for 27 seconds and took no questions.

Staff writers Steve Bousquet and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

Key points of the proposal

* 35,000-seat, open air stadium
* Retractable covering stops rain
* Sale of the Trop helps funding
* No new city tax money, but possible sales tax revenues
* Needs city voter approval

Last edited by John F; May 24, 2010 at 12:44 AM. Reason: added a footprint comparison
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Old Posted Nov 18, 2007, 11:35 PM
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Rays to seek vote on park

The team plans to ask the City Council to let voters decide on a proposed stadium.

By AARON SHAROCKMAN and CRISTINA SILVA, Times Staff Writers
Published November 13, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Rays want city voters to decide next year on their plans for a downtown waterfront baseball stadium, the City Council chairman said Monday.

The team intends to ask the council to place a referendum on the November 2008 ballot, council chairman Jamie Bennett said. The plan calls for building a $450-million stadium at the site of city-owned Al Lang Field, and a major mixed-use development at the site of the Rays' current home, Tropicana Field.

The referendum was one of several new details to emerge Monday, three days after the St. Petersburg Times' Web site, tampabay.com, broke the story about the Rays' plans.

Bennett said he spent 90 minutes speaking with team officials about their intentions. He left the meeting impressed.

"They've done their homework," Bennett said. "And from first blush, it seems like it could work."

Though the Rays have declined to provide details of their plans, team officials showed Bennett a series of conceptual drawings of the new stadium. Among the new details:

-The team proposes to provide 5,000 parking spaces at Tropicana Field for games at the new stadium 10 blocks away. A shuttle could take fans back and forth. The Rays said an analysis shows there are 12,000 parking spaces within a half-mile of the downtown site.

-The new stadium would be open-air, but a stylized "sail" roof could protect the seats and the field from sun and rain.

-The new stadium would have views of the bay, the Pier and the downtown skyline. The parking lot now at the Al Lang site would be turned into a park.

-Tropicana Field would be turned into a mixed-use residential and retail complex. Affordable housing would be a major component.

As far along as the Rays are, there are still many details to work out, Bennett said. Most notably, there's the question of how the team would cover the potential $450-million cost of construction.

Bennett said the Rays did not ask for any city contribution during their meeting. The Rays are expected to ask the state to contribute $60-million from a sales-tax rebate program. Under that scenario, which requires legislative approval, sales taxes on merchandise, food and beer sold in the new facility over 30 years would be diverted to help pay off construction costs.

The city hasn't seen an official presentation, and may not see one for weeks.

City voters would have the final say on a new stadium, because the city charter requires a public vote for the kind of long-term lease on waterfront land the Rays would need. And the City Council would have to agree to put the measure on the fall 2008 ballot.

"The city's not agreed to anything at this point," Mayor Rick Baker said. "If a presentation is made to us, we'll evaluate it and do what's best for the city."

More stadium details

The Rays have drawings of the new stadium from several angles, Bennett said. The team declined to provide the Times with copies on Monday.

One view is from the outside of the stadium, another is from inside, Bennett said. Another view is from the water.

"If you look at it from the side, you can see through it," said Bennett. "It's not an obtrusive, big object."

Bennett said the sail-like covering would shield parts of the field and would be anchored off a pole.

"It kind of has a nautical look from the side," Bennett said. "It kind of looks like a big ol' sail."

The roof would prevent rainouts, except in cases of extreme weather.

Council member Herb Polson said he also met with team executives Monday.

"It's an interesting-looking facility," said Polson, who said he had several questions Monday about how the covering would operate.

Team officials told city officials there would be enough parking to accommodate fans.

And the Rays want to keep 5,000 spaces at Tropicana Field - in parking garages - to make up the difference.

That's one of just several changes contemplated for the Rays' current home.

Overhaul of Trop site

The team wants to turn the 70-acre-plus Tropicana site into a mixed-use residential and retail community, Bennett said.

The site would have large amounts of affordable housing and a park. It would be ringed by retail space.

The Rays would share in the proceeds from the sale of the land to a private developer along with the city, and potentially the county. All three entities have an interest in the site, which is bordered by interstates 275 and 175.

Commercial real estate experts on Monday said it could be a prime property, but they were unsure how much money the land would be worth on the open market.

"It would certainly lend itself to retail development, office development and a residential component," said Alan Feldshue, a senior associate with Colliers Arnold. "It's a fabulous site. If it was priced reasonably, you could make the economics work."

The plan to sell voters on a new stadium likely hinges as much on the redevelopment of Tropicana Field as the prospects of the new waterfront ballpark, Polson said. The city still owes about $100-million on Tropicana Field.

Other council members are expected to be asked to similar meetings in the coming days.

"This can't be solely centered on the new facility," Polson said. "We'll need to look at the entire picture."
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Old Posted Nov 18, 2007, 11:38 PM
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And with a new stadium talk finally gearing up for the Rays (who don't play well enough to deserve a new park), the rivalry between Tampa and St. Petersburg is renewed. Tropicana Field (the Dome the Rays currently play in) was only constructed because of the bitter rivalry between Tampa and St. Pete -- St. Pete was so insecure about Tampa landing a baseball team instead of them, they approved construction of the Dome in 1986 with no promises a MLB team would ever play within it.

Ballpark plan fuels two cities' rivalry


St. Petersburg! No, Tampa! Rays' plans renew the debate.

By NICOLE HUTCHESON, Times Staff Writer
Published November 14, 2007

If you think the University of Florida-Florida State rivalry is bad, consider the age-old smashup between sister cities St. Petersburg and Tampa.

For generations, the qualities of the cities have been debated.

Tampa's got the size.

St. Petersburg's got the charm.

Tampa's got the Bucs and Lightning, St. Petersburg the Rays.

But as the Tampa Bay Rays talk of moving their home from Tropicana Field to Al Lang Field, the simmering clash between the cities is heating up once again.

Plenty of Tampa folks say the team should consider moving east of the Howard Frankland Bridge and take up residence with the bay area's other two major league sports teams. St. Petersburg fans say no way and call it another attempt by Tampa to steal its thunder.

Call-in talk shows, newspaper columnists, elected officials and blogs are all buzzing with this very discussion.

"Don't get me started on Tampa," said Mark Ferguson, who owns Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill, an institution on Central Avenue. "I believe the Lightning and Bucs are in Tampa, we have the Rays in St. Petersburg. ... Once they come over and see a game, they'll be fine. It's only water."

But Winter Haven resident Jamie Chastain said when it comes to the Rays moving to Tampa, dollars make sense.

"There's literally hundreds of thousands of kids and adults who have never been to the Trop or St. Petersburg because it's another 30 miles across that bridge, and down the interstate and you've got to go through malfunction junction," said Chastain, 59, a professor at Polk Community College. "They should do a poll, they'll find people in Pasco, Polk and Hardee who would all like to be closer so they could go to the games."

To be clear, even if the Rays wanted to move to Tampa, it would take a lot of legal wrangling and even more money to do so.

The Rays have a contract with the city of St. Petersburg that doesn't expire until 2027. And the city still owes about $100-million on Tropicana Field, not including interest. To get out of the contract, the team would have to at least pay off the city's debt and could face more legal penalties.

St. Petersburg City Council member Bill Foster compared the agreement to a marriage.

"The primary reason they the Rays don't move anywhere else, is what I like to call the 'prenuptial agreement,'" Foster said. "We're in holy matrimony with the Rays, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health. That's our relationship; that's our partnership."

In the late 1980s, St. Petersburg took an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach. City officials footed the bill for Tropicana Field even before a major league team signed on. In 1995, the Tampa Bay area was awarded the franchise. Since St. Petersburg had already built the stadium, it was the logical place to play.

"St. Petersburg was Cinderella, and finally the slipper fits," Foster said. "We're no longer in their shadow, and now Tampa is just trying to keep up."

So far, Tampa officials are keeping out of the whole deal.

"They're in St. Petersburg; they always have been there. Tampa has never been a part of the equation," said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. "I think that's St. Petersburg's business."

Though some Tampa residents may be complaining about the trek to Tropicana Field, Rays officials say it hasn't affected ticket sales that much.

The Rays don't release specific numbers on ticket sales, but did say the team's season ticket base skews to Pinellas more than Hillsborough. However, individual tickets are quite evenly split, said Rick Vaughn, a spokesman for the team.

Recently, the team opened a new office and retail space in downtown Tampa to help spur season ticket sales.

Christine M. Burdick, president of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, said the cities should look at each other as complements, not competition.

"There are so many things we have now that almost demand a larger regional approach," Burdick said. "That doesn't mean that there won't always be a rivalry, but it also doesn't mean one city is better than the other."

Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or (727)893-8828.
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Old Posted Nov 18, 2007, 11:41 PM
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and then there is the conceptual (unofficial, only done by the St. Pete Times newspaper) rendering of the field from the rumored designs of the park:

Something like this?




By AARON SHAROCKMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 18, 2007

On his second day running the Tampa Bay Rays, principal owner Stuart Sternberg tipped his hand about plans for an open-air baseball stadium.

We just didn't know it then.

"Ideally you want to be outdoors when it's beautiful and you want to be indoors when it's not," Sternberg said Oct. 7, 2005. "We will explore certain possible new technologies that develop and might give us the opportunity to keep out the weather but sort of keep in the environment."

Now we know what Sternberg had in mind.

The Rays won't reveal their drawing for the new ballpark they are proposing on the downtown waterfront. But based on discussions with people who have seen renderings of the team's version, the St. Petersburg Times created its own.

If the Rays' dream ballpark is ever built, it would be one of a kind. Picture an outdoor stadium where Al Lang Field now stands.

Out past left field looms the city skyline. Over center, the Pier. To right, Tampa Bay.

A grass berm rings the outfield. A new grassy park borders the north end of the stadium.

A steel roof covers the top of the horseshoe-shaped grandstands.

Above that, hundreds of yards of fabric sails are stored. A series of cables runs from the roof to a mast in center field, 300-feet-tall. Other cables arch across the stadium to help create a form.

Then, the storm comes.

With a push of the button, the fabric starts to unfurl. It rises toward the hulking center field poll.

When it's in place, the fabric covers the stands and most of the field. It provides shade for the field and the seats, and protects fans and players from the rain.

The concept for the Rays new stadium is unique. No major league baseball stadium has a fabric roof that covers the field, but keeps baseball outdoors.

Most roofs that retract are built on a rail-like system. In Houston, where the Astros play, the entire roof simply slides off on a track.

In Milwaukee, the roof of the stadium opens and closes like a Japanese fan.

But designs like those take room. They probably wouldn't fit on the Rays' preferred site, Al Lang Field, the team's spring training home. And they tend to be expensive.

An industry expert said the Rays' sail could cut temperatures in the stadium by as much as 20 degrees.

And home runs could still reach Tampa Bay.

How hot would it be?

As innovative as it may sound, there are plenty of questions regarding the Rays' design. Lots of them have to do with structural engineering.

But a more pressing issue remains.

Outdoor baseball in St. Petersburg? In July?

Though Tropicana Field consistently is listed near the top of baseball's worst stadiums list, it was built with a dome on top for a reason.

The average high in St. Petersburg during July and August is 90 degrees. On average, there are nearly 15 inches of rain in those two months.

"I'm a Rays fan who kind of likes that 72 degree temperature," City Council member Jamie Bennett said recently.

According to experts, the fabric the Rays choose could help mitigate concerns about heat.

Rick Hughes, project manager at Sky Shades, an Orlando-area company that sells fabric coverings, said a fabric roof could keep parts of the stadium 20 degrees cooler during the hottest parts of the day.

The fabric, a lightweight synthetic polymer, would reflect 70 percent of the visible light and 99 percent of the more dangerous UV rays, Hughes said.

But the fabric allows enough light to pass through to play a baseball game during the day.

"It's very doable," Hughes said. "In fact, it's being done."

Soccer stadiums in Australia, Europe and Asia are being constructed using similar technology, Hughes and others said.

None look like the Rays proposal, but most work in the same general way.

In Japan, the 45,000-seat Toyota Stadium has a fabric roof that slides into place almost like a roll-up door. In Spain, a bullfighting ring has a circular roof that lifts and slides away.

The Rays said Friday they likely will unveil more details about the new 35,000-seat stadium by the end of the month.

Roof specifics secret

The circle of people who know about the roof's design is small. It includes city and team officials and the architects and consultants themselves.

Bart Dreiling, the president of a Kansas City company that deals in fabric roofing products, said a stadium architect recently showed him a design for a Florida ballpark.

Dreiling remembers the designer saying the stadium was top secret. The architect never said where in Florida the stadium was. And Dreiling never asked.

"It could have been the Devil Rays," Dreiling said. "It might not have been. I can't say."

In any event, Dreiling was reluctant to talk about that specific project.

But in general, Dreiling said what the Rays may be considering is certainly possible.

The team has hired a Minnesota consulting firm to help engineer the roof's movement.

Uni-System has designed the roofing mechanisms for three major league stadiums - football and baseball stadium in Houston, and the football stadium in Phoenix.

Cyril Silberman, Uni-Systems' founder and CEO, said he is prevented from discussing the Rays roof because of a confidentiality agreement.

But he, too, said what the team is proposing is feasible.

"It can be done," Silberman said. "The Europeans have played around with it, making retractable fabric roofs.

But "not anything like what the Rays want."

Aaron Sharockman can be reached at asharockman@sptimes.com or 727 892-2273.
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2007, 5:31 AM
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Want to trade owners? The Rays seem to be doing the opposite of what the Marlins are trying to do. And they'll probably end up getting their stadium while the Marlins get shipped to Portland. I wish them luck. As long as they're in the AL East they're going to need it.

I vote the charm of St. Pete for selfish reasons. I enjoy St. Pete more than Tampa and going to games there is always enjoyable to me. Of course I usually only go once a year.
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2007, 4:11 PM
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^ a lot of Expo fans (yes, they existed -- past tense of course) were warning about Loria and Sampson in Miami. I feel your pain there.

Sternburg is doing a good job as a businessman -- I'll give him that. Not just as a businessman but as a savvy investor who knows the market isn't ripe for a publicly underwritten stadium. 390 of the 450 million would come from private money...

I might not be keen on a new stadium project for the Rays because of their losing ways and because of their non-endearment to the Tampa Bay area (they've rarely won more than 69 games, have never finished .500, never vyed for a playoff berth, etc), along with the location and logistical problems it creates (no parking, no mass transit, etc)....

...But Sternburg and company have done there homework.

Of coruse there are more quesitons about htings than I am stating here.... I'm waiting to see if anyone else jumps on them before I voice them
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2007, 8:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John F View Post


why even put such a hidious image in the paper. plus im sure its real reasonable to assume there are 500 foot long taut cables.

i take it, if a new stadium gets built here, the free parking will be no more.
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Last edited by blazertke; Nov 20, 2007 at 8:15 PM.
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2007, 9:50 PM
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LOL Mark on the free parking, good call!

The cables are another point that people don't think about... I mean, from the seating area -- viewing the cables? Eyesore. In this render you only see a possible view from above the park.

We'll have to wait for the official renderings though to truly pass judgement.

one also has to wonder how those sails/canvas awnings would hold up under gale force winds that seldom pop up during a thunderstorm here in Florida? And seeing the Tampa Bay region routinely vies for the Lightning capital of the world title, isn't it a little awkward to attract lightning with the sail pole?
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Old Posted Nov 20, 2007, 10:18 PM
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parking aside.

this is a great location for a ball park. plus i agree, the real selling point for this location will be when the offical renderings are out.


side note: they should put a crows nest on that 300 ft mast. and if and when the rays lose their 100 game of the year, the mascot makes a jump for it.
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Old Posted Nov 21, 2007, 5:57 PM
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New-look Rays want a new stadium
11/21/2007 11:34 AM ET
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will announce details and renderings of a new waterfront ballpark and redevelopment of Tropicana Field on Nov. 28, according to a news release by the team Wednesday.

The stadium announcement will take place at 3 p.m. at Progress Energy Park, Home of Al Lang Field.

While the Rays' efforts for a new 35,000-seat, $450-million ballpark on the site of Al Lang Field in downtown St. Petersburg have been widely reported, Wednesday's scheduled event will be the Rays' first official acknowledgment of a proposed stadium.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker are scheduled to attend, as well as Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball president and chief operating officer; Stuart Sternberg, Rays principal owner; Matt Silverman, Rays president; and Michael Kalt, senior vice president of development and business affairs.

According to reports, the Rays might contribute as much as $150 million -- to cover one-third of the costs -- and the team also would seek legislative approval for $60 million of future sales tax revenues from the state of Florida to make the stadium a reality by 2012. In addition, the team wants to find a private developer to construct a large retail/residential complex where Tropicana Field sits so the team could get out of its lease.

Al Lang Field has been the site of the Rays' Spring Training exhibition games throughout the team's history, but the Rays are scheduled to move from the locale on the St. Petersburg waterfront to Port Charlotte for Spring Training in 2009. Because Al Lang Field is housed on public property, voters would need to approve the new stadium. Also, the plan would depend on the city being able to sell the Al Lang site to Pinellas County, which would create a situation in which property taxes could be avoided. If the deal comes to fruition, the Rays would seek a long-term deal.

Approximately $100 million is still owed by the city on Tropicana Field, which will not be paid off until 2025. St. Petersburg could recover what it owes if a private developer purchased Tropicana Field and the adjacent parking lot.

Reports have said the proposed stadium will be an open-air facility, with a plan calling for an available option that would allow it to be covered with a sail-like material on a cabling system in the event of inclement weather.

Under this stadium plan, the design is expected to have a retro look. Longtime fans attending games at Al Lang Field would need to get used to having the playing field face a different direction to facilitate a field that would allow home run balls hit to right field to land in the water, which would be akin to AT&T Park in San Francisco.
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  #11  
Old Posted Nov 21, 2007, 9:05 PM
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Keep us updated.

The state sales tax issue is an interesting one. The Marlins have been turned down 3 years running (at least that long). But they already got the tax break for retrofitting Dolphin stadium. Some view it as double dipping, even though it was a different owner. I'm not sure if the Rays also claimed it on Tropicana. Any idea? But it's not uncommon. I believe most of the stadiums/arenas in the past have been granted the exemption.
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Old Posted Nov 23, 2007, 7:06 PM
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i really wish cities would stop funding stadiums with public tax dollars. time and time again these team owners are getting increasingly rich with these city tax dollar deals. the glazers are a perfect example.

i would not support a stadium using tax dollars. and if any public official tries to help the rays to get such a deal, i will do whatever i can to make sure they are removed from office.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2007, 2:48 AM
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How awful for the new residents of downtown if a stadium moves in. The congestion that will come with it will be a blight on the budding urban ambiance. I couldn't think of a worse location for a sports venue than some place tucked away on the waterfront of downtown St pete. I would think the current location near the interstate would be better suited. Granted, the current stadium is an eyesore - it looks more like an oil storage facility for Sunoco rather than a stadium, but the location is better.
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Old Posted Nov 24, 2007, 3:19 AM
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Ok, let me get this straight...

You guys are planning to replace a stadium that isn't paid for yet, with a stadium that essentially amounts to a tent that has no parking, no air conditioning, and holds 10,000 fewer people? Do I have that right?

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Old Posted Nov 27, 2007, 4:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vertex View Post
Ok, let me get this straight...
You guys are planning to replace a stadium that isn't paid for yet, with a stadium that essentially amounts to a tent that has no parking, no air conditioning, and holds 10,000 fewer people? Do I have that right?
yes... as long as you substitute "The Rays" in place of "You Guys"
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Old Posted Nov 27, 2007, 3:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnland View Post
How awful for the new residents of downtown if a stadium moves in. The congestion that will come with it will be a blight on the budding urban ambiance. I couldn't think of a worse location for a sports venue than some place tucked away on the waterfront of downtown St pete. I would think the current location near the interstate would be better suited. Granted, the current stadium is an eyesore - it looks more like an oil storage facility for Sunoco rather than a stadium, but the location is better.
A new stadium -- if the Trop was paid for and all that -- built specifically in St. Pete would be best on the Tropicana Field parking lots - not on the waterfront, not on a band-box footprint, not with an airport next door and a unversity campus as well (USF-St. Petersburg).
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Old Posted Nov 27, 2007, 4:04 PM
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There was something that I didn't think about when this story broke (I was in LA at the time when I saw the story on my blackberry)... That was the fact there had been a St. Petersburg city election just days earlier....

...and talks between the city and the team have been going on throughout campaign season without any mention of the stadium until just after the elections were held:
A lie of omission? More like just a lie

By HOWARD TROXLER
Published November 27, 2007

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

No to the city of St. Petersburg.

No to its government. No to its mayor. No to its deputy mayors and assistant pooh-bahs.

They do not get to run the government like this. They just don't.

For much of 2007, the citizens of St. Petersburg, also known as taxpayers and voters, believed that they were taking part in actual democracy.

They thought they were taking part in a public process to decide the future of the city's waterfront.

They showed up, they signed up to speak, they testified, they pleaded. The city pretended to be listening.

We now know it was a sham. Since March 2007, the city had a signed confidentiality agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays concerning plans to use the waterfront for a 35,000-seat, $450-million baseball stadium.

And all of those voters, and citizens, and taxpayers, who thought they were Making Their Voices Heard and all of that kind of civics-class nonsense were just being suckers.

But they weren't the only suckers. All of us who live in St. Petersburg are suckers as well.

That's why the all-wise City Hall decided it was best to keep this proposal concealed from the city's voters even during the city election.

To which a sane person can only ask, in amazement:

Are you kidding me?

The biggest, most important decision the city will make in a generation, and the city believes it is none of the voters' business even while they are choosing the next City Council?

I want a do-over.

I want a new election. I want the mayor and entire City Council recalled so the voters can have an honest election about the future of the city based on the truth.

Tell me, now, how many other secret deals does Mayor Rick Baker have going? What else don't we know? Can we trust the water department? The parks? The heads of police and fire?

How many other times has the city abused this state law that allows Florida government to cast secrecy over anything labeled "economic development"?

We are not talking merely about a new widget factory coming to St. Petersburg, which is the kind of thing for which this secrecy was intended. (Even that loophole is sleazy, if you ask me.)

Neither are we just talking about the need to give the Rays a little elbow room and breathing space before their plans became public.

No. On top of all that, the city actually went through the charade of holding a public process of rewriting its land-use codes, and of pretending to be taking public input.

So why, now, should citizens believe anything that this city government says in a public process?

It will be interesting now to see how much "public input" the city intends to allow as this baseball deal proceeds.

It will be fascinating to see exactly how the sale of the existing Tropicana Field is supposed to produce a pot of gold.

It will be downright transfixing to learn who is supposed to be on the hook for any shortfall.

Oh, and I am even mildly curious as to whether the city really intends to allow an election that gives the voters the last say. The City Charter requires one, but we can see how much "democracy" actually matters in St. Petersburg.
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  #18  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2007, 5:31 PM
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The press conference has been moved up to 2:15 (probably because the Republican debate is in St. Petersburg tonight). I'll post where and when I can with new info and renders.

BTW -- there's also a poll up at www.sticksoffire.com about where the Rays should play (Tropicana field, a new waterfront park, somewhere in Tampa? Somewhere outside of Tampa Bay?)
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  #19  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2007, 7:39 PM
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Old Posted Nov 28, 2007, 7:53 PM
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The Rays also revealed a new website tied to the redevelopment / stadium effort called Major League Downtown
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