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Development firm bidding on Trop site unveils new renderings

Margie Manning

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Tropicana Field would become an open-air stadium with a metallic roof over the seats under the TRS Development proposal.

TRS Development Services has released new images of its plan for a renovated home for the Tampa Bay Rays.

TRS would leave the existing Tropicana Field in place, but remove the dome and replace it with a metallic roof that would cover the seating area, said William Henry, managing member of TRS Development Services. It won’t feel anything like the ballpark today, he said.

TRS, a land developer based in Tampa, is one of seven firms vying to become master developer for the 86-acre Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg.

 Since the potential development plans were released in mid-January, the city, which owns the land, has been conducting an internal review and taking public comment. Mayor Rick Kriseman will make a short list of companies that will be subject to additional public scrutiny before a final developer is chosen.

All of the plans include a range of housing, corporate offices and space for local small businesses, a hotel and convention center, green space and parks, and transportation options. Since the Rays have not yet announced plans for where the team will play when their lease at Tropicana Field ends after the 2027 baseball season, all the prospective developers were asked to submit proposals that showed the site both with and without a ballpark.

Many of the proposed developments would rebuild and relocate the stadium. The TRS plan would keep the stadium at its existing site with renovations.

The TRS Development plan would renovate, but not rebuild, the existing Tropicana Field.

There are several major components, including removing the dome and replacing it with a metallic roof.

“That’s a critical part. Historically, the Rays have said they want an open air stadium,” Henry said. The planned roof would primarily cover seats behind home plate and along the first and third base lines. “If you are sitting in the stands and you are looking out you should be able to see the skyline of St. Petersburg.”

The TRS pan would address accessibility by ensuring restrooms are ADA-compliant. Some concerns also have been raised by geotechnical unsuitability, so the plan includes funding to inject concrete around the foundation and create a longer life for the Trop, Henry said. There’s also funding for miscellaneous enhancements, such as potential seat upgrades or concessions.

“We are proposing a very specific scope of work that would enhance the fan base and experience,” Henry said. “The fan experience today in a lot of the better stadiums is that it’s more transparent, it’s more experiential with the surrounding neighborhoods. One of the problems has been that you can’t see the field when you are going in Tropicana Field. It’s enclosed and we’re opening it up and trying to make it transparent.”

A renovated Tropicana Field won’t feel anything like the existing stadium, according to TRS Development.

The proposed Tropicana Field renovation would cost about $193 million.

TRS would not seek public funding for the plan. Instead, Henry said the company would use sales proceeds from planned luxury condo towers that would be built on the site to back a bond issue that would pay for Trop renovations.

The condo sales could range from $600 million to $900 million, resulting in between $170 million to $190 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, that would be used to repay the bonds, Henry said.

Under a development scenario without a new ballpark,  the TRS plan calls for a research park affiliated with a major university, Henry said.

The St. Pete Catalyst earlier published a series, Trop Talk, looking at each of the developers’ plans. Click here for the series.

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