Florida Construction News staff writer
The Tampa Bay Rays announced this week that a historic agreement has been reached with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to build a new state-of-the-art ballpark and a transformational development by the Hines Historic Gas Plant Partnership on the 86-acre site where the team’s current stadium sits.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2024 in the first of two phases. The team 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 Opening Day 2028.
“There’s no place like home, St. Pete,” was the message posted on the team’s social media accounts this week, along with a graphic stating “Here to stay.”
The plan includes about eight million square feet of mixed-use development and a ballpark for the Rays. It is expected to be the largest mixed-use development project in Tampa Bay history.
Key elements are from 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. However, the agreement increases the number of affordable/workforce housing units to be built by the partnership to 1,200, with at least half of that amount to be built on the Historic Gas Plant site. It also adds on-site affordable units for seniors.
It includes a $50 million commitment to intentional equity initiatives in partnership with South St. Petersburg that include affordable housing funding, employment and business support, education programs and Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises hiring commitments.
Once fully built, the development will include:
- 4,800 residential units
- 1,200 affordable/workforce residential units (on and off-site)
- 600 senior living units
- 1,400,000 square feet of office, medical and commercial space
- 750,000 square feet of retail
- 750 hotel rooms
- 100,000 square feet of entertainment space, including a concert venue to seat up to 4,000
- 50,000 square feet of civic space, namely a new home for the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
- 90,000 – 100,000 square feet of conference, ballroom and meeting space
- 14 acres of public open space
- 14,000 parking spaces
“Our transformational development of 86 acres in the heart of St. Petersburg will benefit St. Pete and Tampa Bay residents for generations to come,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch. “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.
“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.
The ballpark will have a capacity of about 30,000 for baseball and up to 35,000 for other events, providing the most intimate fan experience in Major League Baseball. The Rays will pay more than half of the $1.3 billion ballpark and be responsible for any cost overruns. Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg will combine to contribute approximately $600 million in equal amounts.
The public approval process by Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg is expected to begin this fall.
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