The agreement advances a project for the entire Tampa Bay region that will include nearly 8 million sq. ft. of mixed-use development and a new, neighborhood ballpark for the Rays that ensures Major League Baseball remains in St. Petersburg for many years. (Hines rendering)
Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays announced Sept. 19 that the team had reached a historic agreement with the city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to move forward with a new stadium.
A key part of the deal includes what the team calls a "transformational development" by the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership on the 86-acre site where the Rays' current stadium sits.
The agreement advances a project for the entire Tampa Bay region that will include nearly 8 million sq. ft. of mixed-use development and a new, neighborhood ballpark for the Rays that ensures Major League Baseball remains in St. Petersburg for many years.
"This will be a transformative project for the Rays, St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County," noted Tampa Bay Rays Principal Owner Stu Sternberg. "We have proudly served as Tampa Bay's Major League team for 25 years, and we are thrilled to be in position to do so for decades and generations to come."
Overall, the project will invest more than $6.5 billion in St. Petersburg over 20 years and be the largest mixed-use development project in Tampa Bay history, according to a news release from the Rays.
The agreed-upon plan includes the key aspects of the original proposal submitted by the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership in response to St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch's Request for Proposals in 2022.
The agreement increases the number of affordable and workforce housing units to be constructed by the partnership to 1,200 — at least half of which are to be built on the Historic Gas Plant site. It also adds on-site affordable units for seniors.
The development deal focuses heavily on the equitable, intentional and restorative delivery of community benefits and economic impacts, Rays officials said, specifically to honor the legacy of the Historic Gas Plant neighborhood's residents and businesses.
A $50 million commitment to intentional equity initiatives in partnership with South St. Petersburg will be put in place that, besides funding for affordable housing, will include employment and business support, education programs and Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises hiring commitments.
Michael Harrison, senior managing director of Hines, a global real estate development company based in Houston, Texas, said his firm was honored to bring what he called a "city-defining project" to life in St. Petersburg, located just across Old Tampa Bay from Tampa.
"[Hines'] goal is to create [the] next great place to live, work and play for all of St. Petersburg, while also generating one of the most exciting mixed-use placemaking destinations in the world," he added. "We consider it a privilege to partner with the Rays, the city and the community to make this vision a reality."
Harrison's firm is one of the largest privately held real estate developers and managers in the world, with extensive experience in Florida and across the United States
Extensive Plans On Drawing Board
The Rays' new ballpark will have a capacity of around 30,000 for baseball, with the ability to accommodate up to 35,000 for other events, providing the most intimate fan experience in Major League Baseball, the team said.
More than half of the $1.3 billion price tag for the new stadium will be paid for by the Rays, and the team also will be responsible for any cost overruns. Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg will combine to kick in approximately $600 million in equal amounts.
Construction on the development is expected to begin in late 2024 in the first of two phases.
The Rays will continue to play in the existing ballpark on the site until the end of its current lease with the city of St. Petersburg in 2027. Phase 1 of the development and the new ballpark are projected to be ready by baseball's opening day in 2028.
The public approval process by Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg is expected to begin this fall.
Once fully built, the new development around the ballpark is set to include:
- 4,800 residential units.
- 1,200 affordable/workforce residential units (on and off-site).
- 600 senior living units.
- 1.4 million sq. ft. of office, medical and commercial space.
- 750,000 sq. ft. of retail space.
- 750 hotel rooms.
- 100,000 sq. ft. of entertainment space, including a concert venue to seat up to 4,000 patrons.
- 50,000 sq. ft. of civic space, most of which will be for the new home of the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.
- 90,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. of conference, ballroom, and meeting space.
- 14 acres of public open space.
- A total of 14,000 parking spaces.
St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch said the 86-acre project in the heart of his city promises to immeasurably benefit residents of St. Pete and Tampa Bay as well as address inequities from the past.
"The Rays are here to stay, and it's also critical to underscore that this impactful work is much bigger than baseball and extends far beyond the 17-acre ballpark," he noted in the Rays' press release.
"We are duty bound with our intentional efforts to honor the broken promises made to the Historic Gas Plant community, an incredibly special place that my own family called home," Welch continued.
"Our strong partnership with Pinellas County and the Hines-Rays group is coupling opportunity with hope, linking jobs to economic growth, fulfilling a commitment to minority business participation, and building thousands of residential units, including a significant number of affordable and workforce housing to uplift families and strengthen neighborhoods."
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