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Trouble parking in St. Pete? Try the Trop

Mark Parker



A view of downtown St. Petersburg from Tropicana Field. Photo by Mark Parker.

While finding available parking in St. Petersburg is increasingly challenging as the city experiences exponential growth, an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays will provide nearly 2,000 new spaces.

The city council unanimously approved a code amendment Thursday that allows officials to enforce parking regulations at city-operated facilities on private property. The change stems from team leadership requesting enforcement assistance to provide public parking at Tropicana Field during non-game days.

The subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Rays, also passed unanimously, enables residents and visitors to utilize nearly 2,000 of the stadium’s 7,000 spaces. The agreement states that the city would “initially” enforce public parking at Lots 4 through 8, which spans about a half-mile.

“We’re covering all of the EDGE District,” said Evan Mory, transportation director. “We’re covering some of the Grand Central District, and this is going to really help with the public parking supply at no measurable investment – or incremental investment – by the city or the Rays.”

Roger Curlin, executive director for the EDGE Business District, previously told council members that the area boasts nearly 200 businesses, thousands of residents and employees, millions of visitors and only 80 city-designated parking spaces. The code changes take effect in five business days, although it remains unclear when lots will open to the public.

Cars fill limited parking spaces along St. Petersburg’s EDGE District.

The MOU states that Rays officials will set hourly and daily rates and retain parking revenue. They will also install related signage and contract with the city’s mobile payment platform, Parkmobile.

The city will keep money made from parking citations and fines or fees. Enforcement employees can also have a vehicle towed from Tropicana Field.

Councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders expressed her concern over unintended negative impacts on organizations that currently utilize the lots on non-game days. She wanted to ensure organizers would not face additional hurdles once team leadership approved an event at the Trop.

Bill Wiener, chief community officer for the Rays, assured the council that the goal was to support rather than impede local functions.

“Those events will not be affected by this,” Wiener said. “That is not our intention at all. Our intention is to bring these (spaces) more online for community use, such as the MLK Parade.”

While he did not mention specific pricing, he said the team would adopt the city’s recommended daily parking rate. He relayed that Rays officials were willing to discuss offering discounts for certain events.

Figgs-Sanders noted that parking is free for many city-sponsored functions. Wiener replied that “We will continue that, I promise.”

The areas shaded grey will soon open to public parking, and the agreement leaves open the possibility of the city utilizing additional lots. Screengrab.

Councilmember Gina Driscoll said the additional parking spaces would increase opportunities for people to enjoy the EDGE and Grand Central Districts. “I think this paired with other options, like the SunRunner, this really will help to advance that area – and beyond,” she added.

The region’s first bus rapid transit line connects downtown St. Petersburg with St. Pete Beach and includes a station at Tropicana Field. Fares remain free until November.

“Mayor (Ken) Welch always encourages us to be innovative problem-solvers,” said County Administrator Rob Gerdes. “Parking in this area has been a concern for quite a while, and I want to applaud Mr. Mory’s team for their creative thinking. And I want to thank the Tampa Bay Rays for their willingness for this partnership.”



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