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Politics / Issues

Ken Welch says green space, and the Rays, could be envisioned for Albert Whitted Airport property

Aerial photo of Albert Whitted Airport
St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch has commissioned a study to look at the future of the city's Albert Whitted Airport. The field sits on prime waterfront property, and some city residents have said it benefits only a few airplane owners.

St. Petersburg's new mayor said he would prefer keeping much of the 119 acres in its natural state, but a stadium for the Rays would be part of the discussion.

Ken Welch speaks at podium
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Ken Welch speaks on the steps of city hall

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch on Friday commissioned a study to look at the future of the city's Albert Whitted Airport. The field sits on prime waterfront property, and some city residents have said it benefits only a few airplane owners.

Welch says a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays would be part of the discussion. He says all options are on the table, but he would prefer keeping much of the 119 acres in its natural state — and not as a new home for condominiums and homes.

"It's not, does a Rays ballpark go there? It's what we do with that 119 acres," he said. "And the Rays certainly could be an alternative in that. So it's really not driving the conversation, but it's certainly an important element."

Welch says he prefers to extend the city's waterfront green space through most of the airport property.

"Let's get the numbers, let's hear from the community, let's have the conversation," he said from the steps of city hall. "It troubles me when folks say you can't talk about that. Well, we can talk about that. That's public land."

Welch says there would also be economic benefit to nearby areas, including the University of South Florida campus. They would be allowed to build higher if height restrictions, that now allow planes to land safely, are eliminated.

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