Rays Stadium Update: On May 7, 2024, the Committee of the Whole convened to discuss the highly anticipated Rays Stadium project. The hearing brought to light various concerns, highlighted critical aspects of the project, and delved into its financial implications for the city and county. The discussion also revealed a spectrum of opinions, with both opposition and support among council members and the public. Here are the basic highlights. We also have a much more in-depth information below the article for those who want to know more. 

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During the St. Petersburg City Council Meeting of the Whole on May 9, 2024, the council delved into the proposed redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District, which includes plans for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium. Mayor Ken Welch opened the meeting by expressing his support for the $6.5 billion deal with the Rays and developer Hines, highlighting its potential for fiscal responsibility, equity, job creation, and economic opportunities[5][7][8][9].

However, the meeting also surfaced several concerns from council members. Lisset Hanewicz questioned the continued involvement of Rays owner Stu Sternberg as a developer should he sell the team. Richie Floyd raised issues regarding the lack of detailed plans for a construction apprenticeship program. Additionally, there were criticisms about the proposed amount of affordable housing being insufficient[5][7][8][9].

The council pressed city officials and representatives from the Rays and Hines for more detailed information and suggested modifications to the plan. Given the complexity of the agreements and the need for thorough review, the city decided to postpone the follow-up meeting originally scheduled for May 23, to allow more time for council members to examine all details before proceeding with further discussions and potential votes[5][7][8][9].

Outside the meeting, protesters from the “No Home Run” group voiced their opposition, arguing for higher rent payments from the Rays/Hines, a revenue split with the city/county, and a higher purchase price for the land[5][7][8][9].

The council’s deliberations and the postponement of the follow-up meeting indicate a cautious approach to finalizing the redevelopment plans. While the Rays aim to inaugurate the new stadium by Opening Day 2028, the delay in approval votes could potentially push the timeline to July 2024 or later[5][7][8][9].

Rays Stadium Meeting: The Details

Council Members in Support of the Rays Stadium Project

Council Member Gerdes:

Council Member Hanewicz:

Council Member Gabbard:

Council Members Opposed to the Rays Stadium Project

Council Member Floyd:

Council Member Muhammad:

Council Member Driscoll:

Council Members with Conditional Support for the Rays Stadium

Council Member Montanari:

Council Member Figgs-Sanders:

The Rays Stadium project has divided opinions among council members, reflecting the complexity and scale of the investment. While some members are enthusiastic about the potential economic and cultural benefits, others are concerned about financial priorities, equity, and community impact. Moving forward, the project will require careful planning, transparent communication, and active community involvement to address these concerns and achieve a balanced, equitable outcome.

Future Steps for the Rays Stadium Project

The council hearing on the Rays Stadium project laid out a roadmap for how the process will unfold from here. Ensuring the project’s success will involve several key stages, each with critical actions and milestones. Here’s a detailed look at how the rest of the process is expected to play out:

Further Negotiations and Planning

Ongoing Negotiations:

Public Engagement:

Securing Funding:

Implementation and Construction

Project Phases:

The future steps for the Rays Stadium project involve a detailed and multifaceted approach, ensuring thorough planning, community involvement, and financial prudence. By following these steps, the city aims to create a stadium that not only enhances its infrastructure but also serves as a source of pride and economic growth for the community.

Financial Overview of the Rays Stadium Project

The Rays Stadium project is a major component of the city’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). During the council hearing, the financial implications of the project were a significant focus. Here’s a more detailed look at the financial aspects discussed:

Total FY25 CIP Budget

The total Capital Improvement Plan budget for FY25 is projected at $202.522 million. This budget includes various projects across the city, such as infrastructure improvements, public safety enhancements, and community development initiatives. The Rays Stadium project is one of the largest and most high-profile investments in this plan.

Budget Breakdown

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Categories:

Revenue Sources

The Rays Stadium project will be financed through a combination of revenue sources:

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is essential to justify the substantial investment in the Rays Stadium. This analysis will consider:

Debt Management

The city’s approach to managing debt for the Rays Stadium project involves careful planning and prudent financial management:

In summary, the financial overview of the Rays Stadium project reflects a strategic approach to funding and managing one of the city’s most significant infrastructure investments. By balancing immediate needs with long-term benefits and ensuring prudent debt management, the city aims to make the Rays Stadium a cornerstone of economic and community development.

Concerns Raised About the Rays Stadium Project

The council hearing on the Rays Stadium project brought up several significant concerns from council members and the public. These concerns primarily revolved around budget allocation, economic impact, and community effects. Here’s a detailed breakdown of these issues:

Budget Allocation Concerns

  1. Prioritization of Funds:

Economic Impact Concerns

  1. Return on Investment:

Community Impact Concerns

  1. Traffic and Accessibility:

The concerns raised during the council hearing underscore the complexity and scale of the Rays Stadium project. While there is recognition of the potential benefits, the allocation of funds, economic impact, and community effects are critical issues that need to be addressed. The council members emphasized the need for careful planning, transparent communication, and active community engagement to ensure the project’s success and mitigate any adverse impacts.

Support and Opposition: The Spectrum of Opinions on the Rays Stadium Project

During the council hearing, the Rays Stadium project elicited a wide range of opinions from council members, stakeholders, and the public. Here’s a detailed look at the various perspectives expressed:

In Favor of the Rays Stadium Project

Economic Growth Potential:

Opposition to the Rays Stadium Project

  1. Financial Concerns:

Balanced Perspectives

  1. Conditional Support:

The Rays Stadium project has garnered both strong support and significant opposition. Proponents highlight the potential economic, social, and cultural benefits, while opponents raise valid concerns about financial priorities, equity, and community impact. Balancing these perspectives through careful planning, transparent communication, and community involvement will be crucial for the project’s success and acceptance.

[1] https://www.tampabay.com/news/st-petersburg/2024/04/09/st-petersburg-city-council-sets-rays-stadium-discussion-may/
[2] https://stpetecatalyst.com/will-st-pete-help-fund-the-rays-share-of-stadium-costs/
[3] https://baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2023/10/26/st–pete-city-council-to-dive-into-details-of-tropicana-field-redevelopment
[4] https://cms5.revize.com/revize/stpete/2024-04-11%20PSI%20Agenda%20Packet_revised.pdf
[5] https://www.fox13news.com/news/st-pete-city-council-to-discuss-rays-new-stadium-proposal-at-thursday-meeting
[7] https://www.wmnf.org/more-details-from-st-pete-city-councils-talk-on-rays-development-plan/
[8] https://baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2024/05/10/city-officials-want-more-time-to-digest-redevelopment-details
[9] https://www.wusf.org/politics-issues/2024-05-09/st-petersburg-city-council-first-say-tropicana-field-redevelopment-plans-tampa-bay-rays
[10] https://www.wusf.org/politics-issues/2024-05-08/st-petersburg-city-council-tampa-bay-rays-stadium-tropicana-field-redevelopment

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