Rays up the flags – it’s officially official. The Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Pete have agreed to a deal for a new baseball stadium in the Historic Gas Plant District, keeping the franchise in St. Pete for years to come. The new domed stadium will feature a unique indoor/outdoor design, with plans calling for 30,000 seats and a price tag of $1.3 billion, half of which will be paid for by the Rays.
“We are excited to say that the Rays are here to stay,” St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch declared.
The Tampa Bay Rays and their partner Hines (a global real estate investment, development and management firm) were selected by the city this January to lead the development of the 86-acre Tropicana Field site, but without a signed contract. As Welch described it at the time, that left the Rays and the city effectively engaged to be married, but nothing was official yet.
Today’s announcement weds the Rays and the City of St. Pete for decades to come. And like any good marriage, the work doesn’t stop now. The lease on Tropicana Field runs out in 2027, so the countdown is on for the Rays and Hines team to construct their state-of-the-art new indoor/outdoor stadium, to be located on the northeast corner of the 86-acre property. Officials said they are on track for the stadium to be ready for Opening Day of 2028.
“Major League Baseball is here to stay,” Rays owner Stu Sternberg said. “Right here.”
To move forward on the stadium plan, the Rays are working with Populous, celebrated stadium architects who have led the way in shaping the modern style of MLB stadiums. Populous also designed the Rays’ spring training stadium in Port Charlotte 15 years ago.
The design promises an “experience like nothing else in professional sports.” The integrated indoor/outdoor design will allow people to “flow back and forth” from the street-level stadium concourse to shops and restaurants lining 2nd Avenue South on the north side of the stadium.
The idea is to integrate the stadium with the activities of the neighborhood and city, ideally creating a space that can be used and activated even on days when there are no games or events in the stadium.
Of course, the stadium is only one piece of the entire development. The plans for the 86-acre Gas Plant District are lengthy and detailed. Work on those portions of the development can now go into motion, as well, thanks to the agreement becoming official. Learn more about plans for the entire neighborhood here.
The full area will include hotels, housing, event spaces, retail, outdoor areas and more. Jeff Hines, Chairman of Hines, said it is the biggest project currently underway by the company, calling it, “one of the most exciting mixed-use projects in the world.”