Urban Sports: St Petersburg

April 11, 2008 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Since the Tampa Bay Rays' inagural season in 1998, baseball on the Gulf Coast hasn't exactly been a big draw. Tampa Bay hasn't been all that good, and the dungeon that they play in (Tropicana Field) doesn't really inspire a day at the ballpark. Today, MetroJacksonville takes a look at the Tampa Bay Rays' proposed new facility as planned by the team and the City of St. Petersburg

No, this picture was not taken at an angle.  The buildings roof slants down towards the outfield to keep the HVAC costs down, since most of the crowd sits behind the plate.

The current facility (nicknamed the juice box) was built in 1990 in hopes of landing a Major League Baseball team.  The initial cost was $110 million.  The facility served as home for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team for several years before they moved into a new facility for the 1996-1997 season, at which point $70 million more was spent on the seven year old facility to make it more like a ballpark.  In 2006, $35 million more was poured into the building, making the total 16 year investment $205 million.

However, the bottom line is that the facility is not very well suited for baseball.  The stadium has a series of catwalks over the field; some of which are considered in play (think of it like the backyard when the ball hits a tree).  In addition, the closed in feel of the facility makes it seem a bit like a dungeon.



Estimated at $450 million, the new open-air facility will seat 34,000 fans and will feature a cover that can provide shelter from rain for the playing surface and spectators.  The seating capacity is also in line with normal attendance at Rays games.  Tropicana field currently seats approximately 43,700, but the majority of those people come dressed as empty seats.

The new facility has a backdrop of Tampa bay, similar to the waterfront location of AT&T Park in San Francisco.  In addition, the majority of the parking at the new facility will be provided in structures with ground level retail and restaurants, keeping the urban feel of the facility and surroundings.

Preliminary estimates for this facility anticipate an opening in 2012, but since funding sources have not been identified, this is highly speculative.  However, one of the funding sources will be the sale of the Tropicana Field site, which will be redeveloped.



Three firms responded to an official Request For Proposals from the City of St. Petersburg.  The RFP included many urban-oriented requirements, including a return to the historic street grid (something that Tropicana Field destroyed), connectivity to the waterfront and the surrounding neighborhood, a mix of housing spread across all income levels, and a commitment to LEED building standards.

The red site is the old location and the green site is the new location.


Three firms responded to the RFP:

Williams Quarter, LLC








This development shows how a government agency can issue an RFP with requirements and developers will comply.  The RFP mandates an urban plan that does not resemble an isolated Southside strip mall with a sea of parking.

In addition, this shows how a sports facility can maintain connectivity while providing a fun, urban environment for all to enjoy, regardless of whether or not he or she attends the event. Fans can now create a lively downtown scene as opposed to being ushered out of town on a designated evacuation route.

For More Information:

Information on the new stadium:

St Petersburg RFP Information (Including the responses above): http://www.stpete.org/raysproposal/troprfpresponses.shtm

article written by Steve Congro