ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Petersburg officials pitch plans for the team’s new stadium to city council members Thursday. The council is one of two bodies that must approve the project.
The Rays are proposing a new $1.3 billion ballpark on the same site where the team has struggled with attendance for many years. Recently released documents outline funding for the project. The plans include $287.5 million from the city of St. Petersburg and $312.5 million from Pinellas County.
The price tag only covers the cost of stadium construction, it does not include redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District. The team at 8 On Your Side reached out to all council members for comment about the plans. As of Thursday morning, Councilman Copley Gerdes is the only member to provide a response.
Gerdes sent the following statement:
After numerous one on ones and countless updates I am very excited to see what administration has brought forward. The Rays/Hines team obviously brought a wonderful proposal as a part of the City’s RFP and I think the administration has done a great job of advocating for what our community wants out of this development. Whether it is affordable housing and more units than originally proposed, a new Carter G Woodson Museum, much needed office and commercial space, park land, a music venue, a convention center, hotels and lastly a new state of the art ball park, the Historic Gas Plant District will be the beacon for this community as was promised to be over 30 years ago. Maybe even more importantly, the city has structured this plan so much differently than other stadium developments around so we do not put the short term or long term financial future of the city at risk. In fact, the investment into this district will pay dividends to our city and it’s residents for generations to come. To have the County, the City and the Rays/Hines all at the table is very exciting. We have not had all three of these partners at the table in the past and I think that is what makes the timing of this project finally right.Councilman Copley Gerdes
Some community members question how the city council can justify funding the project when families in the area are struggling with the rising cost of rent.
“This is so much larger than the black and white,” said Dylan Dames with Faith in Florida, “it is so much larger than even the public versus private. This is an issue for working families.”
The Tampa Bay Rays, city officials and city council members are scheduled to discuss the plans Thursday at 1:30 p.m.