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St. Petersburg City Council Wants Clarity On Rays Before Trop Plans Proceed

The City Council approved a resolution asking Mayor Rick Kriseman to delay bringing a final selection for approval until the future of the Rays is determined.

The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday said it’s time to slow down redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site – and see what owners of the Tampa Bay Rays plan to do.

After hearing a short presentation from team owners for the first time since the development finalists were identified, the council unanimously passed a resolution asking Mayor Rick Kriseman to include the Rays in the site selection process.

Specifically, it asks that Kriseman delay bringing a final selection to the council for approval until the future of the Rays is determined.

Kriseman already has picked four finalists for the project and has said he could make his choice next month. He told the Tampa Bay Times he plans to stick with his timeline, which would see an agreement finalized before he leaves office in December.

Councilmember Darden Rice, who is a candidate for Mayor, said making a selection before then is unfair to the team.

“The Rays deserve the opportunity to be heard. And the city deserves the opportunity to see what we can work out with them,” Rice said. “And frankly, the developers who have already submitted proposals for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field, deserve some clarity about what's really happening.”

The Rays have a lease on the property that expires in 2027 and the team has yet to announce where it wants to go. The aging Tropicana Field stadium is not an option, and after efforts to build a stadium in Tampa failed, the team has pitched a plan to share the team with the city of Montreal.

Rays President Matt Silverman spoke to the council, saying the long-simmering debate over the team needs to come first.

“We believe we need to figure out the future of baseball on this site before deciding upon a developer or development plan,” he said. “That is how the Trop site can be developed as swiftly as possible. And with certainty.”

The four proposals to redevelop the 80-plus acre site in downtown St. Petersburg were touted during public meetings last week. Each one includes a vision with and without a Major League Baseball stadium.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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