Today’s the day that the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Petersburg were scheduled to hear about a ballpark plan that is located within the city, yet is more convenient to Tampa and Clearwater. The site is in Carillon, a mixed commercial development at the foot of the
Sunshine Skyway Howard Frankland Bridge. Because of Carillon’s proximity to Tampa and Clearwater (north of downtown St. Pete), nearly double the population is within a 30 minute drive of the ballpark site compared to Tropicana Field.
Carillon is already largely built out, and the developer, CityScape, has only 17+ acres on which to build the ballpark. Since regional public transportation is severely limited, the ballpark will require a significant amount of existing or new parking to meet potential demand. To that end, _ has identified 14,000 parking spaces within the Carillon development. As we’ve seen with Fremont’s Pacific Commons, negotiating parking rights can be very tricky.
Five ballpark configurations were presented, two with a fixed roof, two with a retractable roof, and one that’s open air. The roof options have either a fixed or retractable outfield wall, the latter of which adds an estimated $8 million to the cost. Open air is the cheapest option at $424 million, whereas the retractable roof/wall version will cost an estimated $577 million.
Within those 13 acres is one of the more interesting ballpark concepts presented recently. Hotels and offices loom above and behind the upper deck. A large parklike area sits beyond the outfield, surrounded by more offices. If Rogers Centre (SkyDome) mated with Rangers Ballpark, the offspring might look something like this. At only 35,000 seats it would be the smallest ballpark in MLB, depending on Cisco Field’s final capacity.
The proposal is being pitched by a third party, not the City or the Rays, so there’s an extra element of complication if something like this were to be executed successfully. Both the team and developer will want to make the most money possible, yet there’s a $250 million funding gap – and that’s if St. Pete allows the Trop tax to fund Carillon. At the moment Carillon appears to be the only new ballpark option emerging from St. Pete and has some support from the mayor and some members of the city council. Will that be good enough for Stuart Sternberg, who has wanted to explore Tampa along as St. Pete? We’ll see.