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Rays development team addresses concerns ahead of vote

Mark Parker



From left: Michael Harrison, senior managing director for Hines; Tampa Bay Rays co-president Brian Auld; Tampa Bay Rays co-president Matt Silverman; and Andrikk Frazier, CEO of Best Source Consulting. Photos by Mark Parker.

Friday’s luncheon at Tropicana Field helped dispel oft-repeated refrains that the public-private partnership embarking on a $6.5 billion redevelopment project in St. Petersburg has shunned public transparency.

Tampa Bay Rays and Hines executives spoke candidly about their plans to transform the Historic Gas Plant District into a roughly 86-acre mixed-use and mixed-income community before the mayor, city officials and local stakeholders. The development team also fielded pointed questions from the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, which organized the event.

The city council will likely vote on the generational project in April to meet construction timelines. Peter Schorsch, a club member and publisher of Florida Politics, noted the atmosphere vastly differed from previous stadium construction discussions throughout the decades.

“I just think throughout all of the years, having a mayor in the room with team owners and having an open conversation like this – I don’t know that this happens in other cities,” Schorsch said.

A sizable crowd, including aspiring journalists from local schools (left, foreground), attended the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club’s event.

The next club member underscored that point by asking why the city is better off giving the developers a “sweet deal” rather than selling the land by parcels. Michael Harrison, senior managing director with Hines, said decades of independent research and the firm’s project history show placemaking destinations generate “significantly higher” revenues.

He said people prefer integrated, walkable communities over an apartment building with a ground-floor convenience store. Harrison also noted the importance of having a $1.3 billion ballpark anchoring the project.

“That will bring people from out of St. Pete into St. Pete for 300 days out of the year,” he pledged. “That will benefit not only our project … but really, it’s the spillover effect.”

Harrison said the redevelopment would reestablish the city’s transportation grid and connect bifurcated neighborhoods. In addition, auctioning off parcels would not provide the project’s community benefits – much-deserved considering the site’s beleaguered history.

An advisory council approved the development team’s $50 million benefits package Feb. 6. After the event, Rays president Brian Auld expressed his gratitude for the citizen-led group’s work.

“We are going to consider all of their suggestions very seriously,” Auld told the Catalyst. “We couldn’t be more grateful that they were able to represent such a wide swath of our community.”

He appreciated the “full thumbs-up” to move the generational project forward. Auld said the development team also accepted the committee’s challenge to “sharpen our pencils and see if we can’t make this deal even better – both for the Rays and the city.”

From left: Everald Colas, founder of Storyn Studio; Tampa Bay Rays co-president Matt Silverman; Michael Harrison, senior managing director for Hines; Mayor Ken Welch; Gwendolyn Reese, local historian and consultant; Andrikk Frazier, CEO of Best Source Consulting; and Brian Auld, co-president of the Rays.

Everald Colas, owner of Storyn Studio, a St. Petersburg-based architectural design firm, explained how Gas Plant descendants informed redevelopment plans. The self-sustaining neighborhood offered services, shops and entertainment within a five-minute walk, a vital component during segregation.

Colas said the redevelopment will similarly provide those amenities and more, including a business incubator. “We’re also thinking about generational experiences there,” Colas added. “From daycare to 55 plus.”

He said building an ecosystem around the onsite affordable housing would prevent liquor stores, check-cashing services and fast food chains from dominating the surrounding area. Colas also stressed that the project would feature a grocery store.

The development team pledged that the redevelopment would serve everyone, from market-rate condominium residents to its hospitality workforce. They also stressed the importance of shared accountability.

Andrikk Frazier, CEO of Best Source Consulting, realizes the community heard many of those same promises before the city began displacing Black residents in the 1980s. He said the developers would work closely with several local organizations to ensure the project’s success.

Those include the Pinellas County Urban League and Pinellas County Schools, which brought several aspiring journalists to the event. “But in all honesty, the community needs to hold us accountable and make sure that we’re doing the things we need to,” Frazier added.

Auld said he has attended every Mayor’s City Hall on Tour event and would continue participating throughout 2024. Frazier said they have spent hundreds of hours interacting with stakeholders in the past year.

He also urged residents to offer feedback through a dedicated website. Auld noted that St. Petersburg is a tight-knit community that fosters interactions not found in Atlanta or New York.

“You’ll run into us at restaurants, around town – almost everybody knows someone who works for the Rays,” he said. “We get that feedback. We hear it all the time, and we never say no when someone wants to meet with us.”

He believes that creating a “world-class destination” will increase stadium attendance. Auld added that the Rays would continue supporting every proposed regional transportation initiative.

Team president Matt Silverman said the increased density would foster a transportation hub. “We’re not going to be the ones building that rail necessarily, or the high-speed buses, but we are a … reason for that connectivity.”

A site plan for the $6.5 billion redevelopment project that was showcased at the event.




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  1. Avatar


    February 27, 2024at9:12 pm

    Is there a dedicated website? The link leads to the team’s podcast. Thanks.

  2. Avatar

    Adrian Gansen

    February 15, 2024at8:59 am

    Far from the supposed economic engine the Rays have been touted as for St. Pete, the data says otherwise. No rational person is against development. However, claiming the Rays are an essential part of that is not true. Go to for an in depth analysis of the true cost to the taxpayers.

  3. John Avery

    John Avery

    February 14, 2024at4:56 am

    The only way to re-establish the city’s transportation grid is to tear down I-175.

  4. Avatar

    Jeremy F Wiggers

    February 11, 2024at11:28 pm

    Great, now they’re just gonna make the same mistakes again. Surprising since we just experienced the Royal Rumble. Should have been very evident to every council member how desperately the area needs public transportation. Any development in the downtown area exceeding 80 acres should have a multi model transportation hub. This project has no mention of public transportation in Pinellas county let alone Hillsborough to Pinellas. There needs to be a light rail line on the existing orange rail tracks in a loop from Tampa to St Pete to Clearwater to Tampa. We are already paying for tracks on the new Howard Franklin. We are already the largest Metro with the worst public transport, let’s not make it worse. Green light Pinellas to Hillsborough!

  5. Avatar

    Lyn Wilkinson

    February 11, 2024at8:09 pm

    The City Council needs to postpone the vote until they see the actual contract (not just the pretty promises of the term sheet) have time to study it, ask questions, and share all of it with the public. The 2 week timeline voted at last weeks meeting is ridiculous and benefits only the Rays, who want a new stadium for 2027. Since the plan calls for the Trop (for which taxpayers are still paying) to be torn down after the new stadium is built, why can’t the Ray’s play there an extra season or two if necessary? This is a generational and transformational project and it’s being railroaded through the process to the extreme detriment of every other stakeholder. Grotesque public subsidy indeed.

  6. Avatar

    Jerry S

    February 11, 2024at11:36 am

    Love to see how the critical comments for this fluff piece of journalism are not showing up .
    Facts and accurate reporting show without a doubt that this is a terrible proposition for everyone BUT the billionaires who own the team.
    The cheerleaders who love the idea of handing over billions on tax dollars, don’t have a single solid reason why this is a good idea, and attribute unrelated growth of this city to an empty building with bottom of the league attendance.
    Defeat this ridiculous corporate welfare scheme.

  7. Avatar

    Alan DeLisle

    February 11, 2024at9:54 am

    It’s very simple: The Rays/Hines Term Sheet and Development Agreement don’t represent strong deliverables and equitable financial obligations. If they did, these long-winded marketing events would not be necessary. The city caved on everything.

    Another event should be held with objective participants that can point out all the flaws; do you really think you are going to get an objective perspective from the Rays/Hines? Do you know how many millions they stand to steal (not based) from the city on this deal?

    Ask them this: Show me another fairly recent baseball stadium-development deal even close to this one? Silence!! Stay strong St Pete, dig deep!

  8. Avatar

    Steve D

    February 11, 2024at9:51 am

    Gosh Ryan, I bet that you’re fun to chat with at parties.

  9. Avatar

    Kathleen Cote

    February 11, 2024at9:16 am

    I am not against development. Just want a fair deal for the residents. More equitable contract financially and in terms of housing opportunities.
    This is one of our most valuable assets. We should not have to give it away.

  10. Avatar

    Lenne Gilzow

    February 10, 2024at11:36 pm

    Thanks to the RAYS, we have a booming downtown as opposed to what was once a ghost town. This spillover has ventured down 4th St. and (personally) has influenced my neighbors that recently moved here from Dallas because of the reputation St. Petersburg now has for a top rated area for growth and opportunity.

    Our sports teams consistent winning has our region constantly in the headlines creating a reputable national brand.

    I have new neighbors from Dallas who came first hand to see what this reputable buzz is all about. Paying a premium price that was recently much less. In other words…property values have risen because of our teams and their winning ways as well.

    Naysayers all you want haters…move if you dont like it. But good luck with your new homes location will offer you in profit in the future compared to here.

  11. Avatar

    Ryan Todd

    February 10, 2024at5:27 pm

    Call Vince McMahon or Dana White and see if they’d like a bite at this apple. The Rays cannot fill seats – there will be no “spillover effect” that St. Pete will benefit from.

    The deal is absurd and a repeat of the foolish idea to build the Trop to begin with. We – the current and future residents of St. Pete – are not responsible for the idiocy and promises of previous St. Pete administrators. The restorative justice argument is hollow, disingenuous, and irrelevant.

    Right and Left alike can unite behind opposition to this deal: it’s a grotesque public subsidy for a private company and it also doesn’t deliver on the affordable housing and social benefits it promises.

    Unite against the Rays deal.

  12. Avatar

    Karyn Mueller

    February 10, 2024at4:20 pm

    There has not been an opportunity for the public to ask questions about the proposed deal in a meeting held by the city and they need to be able to do so. There have only been opportunities to comment or answer surveys. The Rays have embraced public relations efforts but the City needs to provide answers to the public’s questions. It is the public’s money being proposed to pay for the stadium after all ($700 million in bonds paid for over 30 years from property taxes following an extension to the Intown CRA) and 80 acres of public land. Why can’t we get answers to questions? The City needs to hold informational meetings.

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