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.
“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.