As momentum builds in the Rays 2012 post-season chase, a local developer seeks to build momentum for a 35,000-seat Rays baseball stadium in Carillon Park.
The cost could range from $424 million to $574 million, with private financing or a combination of public and private financing as options, organizers said Friday during a presentation at the Hilton Carillon.
Developers Darryl LeClair and CityScape presented their plan for the “Rays Park at Carillon,” in front of the St. Petersburg City Council, Pinellas County Commission and members of the Rays organization.
“We believe it is important to have a regional discussion about Major League Baseball, because the Tampa Bay Rays are a regional asset,” LeClair said Friday afternoon at the Hilton Carillon. “CityScape has a vision for a Rays park."
That vision includes a 35,000-seat stadium within the Carillon Park, which would also become an entertainment district development.
While only a few sketches were shown, five cost options were presented. Costs varied based on differences with the roof and outfield wall in centerfield, with views of the water.
- Option 1: Retractable, transparent roof and retractable, transparent wall, $577 million
- Option 2: Fixed, transparent roof and retractable, transparent wall, $548 million
- Option 3: Fixed, transparent roof and fixed, transparent wall, $540 million
- Option 4: Open air stadium and no transparent wall, $424 million
- Option 5: Retractable transparent roof and fixed transparent wall, $564 million
Because of heat, humidity and thunderstorms, the CityScape team suggested that a roof of some sort would be needed in Tampa Bay.
Having a park close to the water, CityScape presented a plan Friday for a transparent roof and wall past centerfield. This would allow fans to be able to enjoy views of the water while enjoying views of the game.
A hotel, residential building and office building would be located on the left field line, behind the plate and along the right field line.
Each would have rooftop spaces and views of the park and the bay, according to Chris Eastman, president at CityScape.
The entire Carillon Park area would add retail, restaurants and entertainment as part of the project. All would be walkable to the stadium. However, Eastman said there would be a tram to pick people up at various locations inside Carillon Park.
Why Carillon Park?
The CityScape team Friday said that Carillion Park makes the most sense as a location.
According to Steven Kurcan, project manager with CityScape, one of the main factors is distance. MLB said a stadium has to be within a 30-minute drive of a stadium to be successful, Kurcan explained.
Of various sites thrown out as potential locations for the Rays, such as Dale Mabry, Channelside and Tropicana Field, Kurcan said Carillon Park is best suited to handle the traffic and growth of the area.
The Carillon Park area, according to CityScape, also has the highest number of nearby residents, businesses and home income compared to other sites in Tampa Bay.
While parking has been a major question mark since CityScape announced it wants to build a stadium in the area, the CityScape Team Friday said there are currently more than 14,000 parking spaces in the area now. With future buildout, that could reach more than 21,000 spaces.
The future buildout of Tampa Bay also means Carillon Park is better suited, Kurcan said. With future road projects and existing infrastructure, Carillon Park allows for easier access to the Rays for more people in Tampa Bay.
“Bottom line, is what this means is more butts in seats,” he said
Will it Get Built?
A. Susan Johnson, executive vice president of CityScape, said Friday, the presentation was just the first step.
“Every successful project just like this one begins with an idea,” Johnson said. “And that idea evolves into a vision and a vision is refined into a plan and the plan matures into a commitment … and a commitment gets a shovel.”
What the crowd in attendance at the Hilton Friday did not get was the exact financing proposal.
“We hope you can appreciate that we are taking a risk today by sharing our stadium plans and further that you appreciate that we have a reluctance to share our financing blue print,” Johnson said. “We do believe there are multiple financing options that range form private financing to a public/private joint venture that requires no incremental direct burden on local tax payers.
“Given the opportunity, we will explore all the opportunities with all the parties involved,” Johnson added.
Much legal work also has to be worked out between the Rays and the city of St. Petersburg before the Rays could speak directly with CityScape over the proposal.
The Rays have insisted that if they were to explore new stadiums that they wanted to be able to hear proposals in Hillsborough County as well. The city fears that giving the Rays that waiver on their contract about exploring options outside St. Petersburg would leave the Rays options to not only leave St. Pete but also the entire region.
“We want to show our future partners all of the exciting possibilities,” Johnson said of details of the proposal not revealed to the public Friday. “This moment presents the opportunity to keep the Rays in the only home they’ve ever known.”