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Despite hurdles, Kriseman fights on to continue Trop redevelopment plans

Veronica Brezina



Tropicana Field
Tropicana Field. File photo.

While St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and city council members continue to clash on redevelopment plans for the Tropicana Field site and face new hurdles, Kriseman doesn’t want to press the pause button.

Kriseman, whose term ends this year, is striving to unlock the potential of the 86-acre site whether it be affordable or workforce housing and office space, which are assets community leaders have said St. Pete is desperately in need of. He wants that vision to remain in motion regardless of what the Tampa Bay Rays’ future entails when their lease expires in 2027.

However, fellow city council members oppose it, asking Kriseman to pause on moving forward and instead try to negotiate a stadium agreement with the Rays. Most recently, a new lawsuit filed against the Rays majority owner Stu Sternberg has been thrown into the mix and is further complicating and intensifying the issue as it has hampered further discussions for the proposed redevelopment.

The lawsuit asks for the removal of Sternberg – which would then jeopardize any potential deals for the Trop.

“We are willing to at least move forward and take that risk on if we get clarity related to the lease agreement,’” Kriseman said during the annual CREW Economic Summit event Wednesday inside the Hilton Tampa Downtown hotel.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard pose inside the Hilton Tampa Downtown hotel during the annual CREW Economic Summit. Photo: Veronica Brezina

“That [the lawsuit] shouldn’t dictate whether we move forward, especially given that we have two finalists who said, ‘we believe we can redevelop the site in a way that allows the team to continue to play through their current lease agreement of 2027,’” Kriseman said.

The filing of the lawsuit followed Kriseman’s decision of narrowing the Tropicana Field redevelopment proposals to two firms.

Kriseman has since recommended Sternberg relinquish power over the Rays – at least momentarily.

In an interview with the St. Pete Catalyst, Kriseman said he is encouraging the city council to communicate with the developers.

Kriseman has been communicating with Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton, who is now considering contracting with a sports consulting firm to figure out the future of Major League Baseball in the county, even if the city doesn’t sign on to the consulting contract.

“I think the council ought to meet with them [the developers], that’s their job, their duty. That’s what their job is, especially being critical in the past saying we didn’t allow them to have input – well, we are trying to give them an opportunity to have input,” he said.

“That site gives us a tremendous opportunity to really address several things that are needed,” he said. “Every time a company relocates, we are struggling to find where they can go.”

“The real issue is why are we not moving forward? Why should we not?” he said.

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  1. Avatar

    John Schreiner

    June 10, 2021at3:54 pm

    Stop the Trop Land Grab & Fire Sale!!
    The Reason we would not & do not want to continue according to Forbes magazine…
    “Publicly Financed Sports Stadiums Are A Game That Taxpayers Lose.”
    Forbes is a Cheerleader for big business, but even they smell a rat.
    Let’s stop the Fire Sale of our 86 acre Crown-Jewel to outside real estate & moneyed interests by OUR current & future St Petersburg Mayor & City Council !!!

    3 Major Flaws with ALL Trop proposals with Issues & Questions
    Flaw #1: Nothing truly beneficial for the long-term interests of
    St Petersburg & Pinellas County residents and businesses are contained in any of the proposals.
    Flaw #2: Why are we having a fire sale of our downtown 86 acre Crown Jewel to Private Interests?
    The City of St Petersburg, which may require Pinellas County involvement, is looking to sell off our publicly owned 86-acre site w/stadium to a handful of private investors & entities rather than retaining ownership on behalf of the residents & businesses of St Pete/Pinellas.
    Do we really want to look like downtown Tampa in 12 years or so?
    If we each wanted that, wouldn’t we now be living in Tampa?
    Flaw #3: All the developers want the city to finance our future development, one way or another. The build-out value of our 86 acre Trop site could be $2.5 Billion according to the outside developers’ estimates. This would increase St Pete’s Assets by 5 fold to over $3 Bil, not including pension assets.
    If we’re financing our own development, shouldn’t we continue to own it?

    If the Rays need revenue sharing to stay in business… probably the Rays shouldn’t be in St Petersburg? 
    If St Petersburg needs to rely on a professional team that’s receiving private subsidies via TV revenue sharing & now the Rays want additional subsidies (some say socialism) to publicly finance a stadium for the privately-held Rays… should St Petersburg be with the Rays?
    In summary, we need to insist on our current & future
    St Petersburg Mayor, City Council & Pinellas County Commission
    Stop the Trop Land Grab of our 86 acre crown jewel.
    We need to call out each candidate at every campaign event
    or we all can say goodbye to our 86 acre parcel & affordable Housing!

  2. Avatar

    David Schultz

    December 2, 2021at4:22 pm

    Let the Rays leave! A new stadium will not help attendance all that much!

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