ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, a Major League Baseball team, have reached an agreement with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to move forward with a new ballpark and surrounding development. The Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership will lead the project on the 86-acre site where the team’s current stadium sits.
The project will include nearly 8 million square feet of mixed-use space along with the new ballpark to ensure the team stays in St. Petersburg for years to come. The team has played at Tropicana Field since 1998. The project is slated to invest more than $6.5 billion in St. Petersburg over 20 years and be the largest mixed-use development in Tampa Bay history, according to a news release from the team.
The agreed-upon plan includes the key aspects of the original proposal submitted by the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership in response to St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch’s request for proposals in 2022. The latest agreement increases the number of affordable and workforce housing units to be built by the partnership to 1,200, with at least half of that amount to be built on the historic Gas Plant District site. It also adds affordable units for seniors.
Upon full build-out, the development is slated to include:
- 4,800 residential units
- 1,200 affordable/workforce units
- 600 senior living units
- 1.4 million square feet of office, medical and commercial space
- 750,000 square feet of retail space
- 750 hotel rooms
- 100,000 square feet of entertainment space, including a 4,000-seat concert venue
- 50,000 square feet of civic space, namely a new home for the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
- 90,000 to 100,000 square feet of conference, ballroom and meeting space
- 14 acres of public open space
- 14,000 parking spaces
The ballpark will have a capacity of around 30,000 for baseball, with the ability to accommodate up to 35,000 for other events. The Rays will pay more than half of the $1.3 billion ballpark and be responsible for any cost overruns. Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg will contribute approximately $600 million each.
The agreement also includes a $50 million commitment to intentional equity initiatives in partnership with South St. Petersburg that include affordable housing funding, employment and business support, education programs, and minority or women-owned business enterprises hiring commitments.
The mayor touts the new project as a way of making amends for the destruction of the historic Gas Plant District during the construction of Tropicana Field. “The Rays are here to stay, and it’s also critical to underscore that this impactful work is much bigger than baseball and extends far beyond the 17-acre ballpark.”
Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2024 on the first of two phases. The team will continue to play in the existing ballpark until the end of its current lease with the city in 2027. Phase I of the development and the new ballpark are projected to be ready by opening day 2028.
The public approval process by the city and the county is expected to begin this fall.
Hines, one of the largest privately held real estate developers and managers globally, has extensive experience in Florida. As of June 30, the firm had $94.6 billion in assets under management.
— Kristin Harlow