St. Pete hosts first forum for public input in Tropicana Field redevelopment

Nearly two weeks after St. Petersburg's mayor scrapped two redevelopment proposals for Tropicana Field, the public had its turn to weigh in on the future of the site.

The first of three community meetings was held Tuesday evening. About 200 residents were able to give their input on what changes they'd like to see in the historic Gas Plant District. 

"It's a big decision coming up and an important one," Tom Lally of St. Pete said. "Going to effect us for many, many years to come."

The community engagement from the meeting is what St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch was hoping for when he scrapped redevelopment bids and decided to start the process all over, calling it a once in a generation opportunity. 

"[It] represents not only our city's largest redevelopment opportunity in decades, but it also represents our community's responsibility to fulfill longstanding promises and honor the Gas Plant community," Welch said. "And to do so in an equitable, sustainable and impactful way."

During the first meeting, attendees were split up into small groups to discuss redevelopment priorities and their vision for the future. 

The feedback and input from the meetings will help the administration shape the new Request for Proposals for the 86-acre site, with the goal of it being more integrated into the city. 

The mayor said interested developers will be asked to include a baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in their plans, but reminded people this is not just a stadium project. It's a community redevelopment project, and a vital one for the future of St. Pete. 

The next two meetings will be: 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022
St. Petersburg College - Gibbs Campus
6605 5th Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

Thursday, July 28, 2022
USF St. Pete 
USC Ballrooms 
200 6th Ave S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

PREVIOUS: St. Pete mayor announces city will nix Trop redevelopment proposals – and start over

In June, Mayor Ken Welch said the reason for nixing the final two proposals on redevelopment ideas was because they were first submitted two years ago – and a lot has changed since then. The new request for proposal process is expected to begin next month.

"Our environment has changed in many ways since the initial RFP was issued in 2020. We have to make sure our RFP meets are current values," he said. "The pandemic has changed the way we work and affected the way we need office space."

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It's still unclear whether the Rays will remain in the city when their lease is up at Tropicana Field in 2027, or how involved they will be in the new redevelopment process.

"We feel that the community needs to be able to weigh in once again. July of 2020 was mid-pandemic," Mayor Welch said at the time. "The Rays stadium question has to be answered. The relationship with the Rays has to be built."