St. Petersburg officials to meet with potential developers for 86-acre Tropicana Field site

It’s been nearly three weeks since St. Petersburg began accepting proposals for the Tropicana Field site, and now, the future of the stadium and the surrounding land will take center stage Wednesday.

City officials will be meeting with a group of developers who could have the right vision for the 86 acres. The meeting will be held at the University of South Florida’s campus in downtown St. Pete. It will be an opportunity to discuss the Request for Proposal process.

There’s a list of qualifications they’ll need to stick to in order to be considered in the running. What to do with the 86 acres of land at the Tropicana Field site has been the topic of discussion for years at this point, and by the time former mayor Rick Kriseman left his position, he had actually narrowed it down to two different developers. However, current mayor Ken Welch decided to scrap those plans and start from the beginning – putting a major focus on the Gas Plant neighborhood that used to care that area home.

It's a personal topic for the mayor as he grew up in the Gas Plant District, a mainly African American community that was thriving until the interstates and Tropicana Field were built. The mayor wants the plan for the site to honor the community that once lived there, while including something for everyone – including the Tampa Bay Rays, if they decide to stay in St. Pete.

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The previous RFP called for plans with and without the stadium, but, this time around, 17.4 acres must be carved out for a "state-of-the-art" baseball stadium.

"Based on the community’s need for clarity on the question of the Tampa Bay Rays’ future in St. Petersburg, it is imperative that proposals provide certainty on the availability of space for Major League Baseball on the site for decades to come," according to a news release from the city.

MORE: Gas Plant District in St. Pete: One of the oldest Black neighborhoods razed for baseball

The proposals must also fulfill a broken promise to residents who once resided where Tropicana Field currently stands. 

"While the move brought our city the Tampa Bay Rays, then known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, residents and businesses were forced to relocate with the promise of jobs, opportunity and equitable development which did not materialize," according to a statement from the city. "With this RFP, our city now has the opportunity to fulfill those unrealized promises."

MORE: St. Pete and baseball: A relationship that spans over a century

The city is also calling for developers to include affordable housing, office space, and activation of the Pinellas Trail within the site and an economic development "that benefits all" – just to name a few.

Additional information on the RFP process can be found here.

Wednesday's pre-proposal meeting with developers means no plans will be submitted. Experts will be on deck to discuss the history of the site, as well as the environmental, housing, and sustainability factors.

After, the city plans to follow up with local residents and conduct an internal review of the submitted proposals. Officials are calling for proposals to be submitted by November.

In December, the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal will be presented to Mayor Welch, and he plans to select a developer by the end of the year.