Options for a rays stadium in tampa industrial electricity prices by state

Tampa baseball stadium locations became a hot topic five years ago when a civic coalition concluded that St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field could not support baseball over the long run. The group pegged downtown Tampa, West Shore and Pinellas County’s Gateway area as the best alternatives.

After years of stagnating attendance at the Trop, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman reportedly wants an agreement with the Rays by the end of the year that would allow a regionwide stadium search in exchange for compensation if the team moves before the city’s lease expires in 2027.

A Community Redevelopment Area designation for the Central Park area could figure in financing, presumably for infrastructure, Buckhorn said. Ybor parking garages are within blocks. Tampa’s passenger rail terminus, Union Station, is next door and could be a factor in future transit plans.

Florida Sentinel Bulletin publisher S. Kay Andrews, who leads the Tampa Park Apartments’ nonprofit ownership group, declined to comment on what options, if any, she and fellow directors would consider. But Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said he expects the apartments to be seriously considered.

More than half the apartments are occupied by low-income residents with federal housing vouchers. Encore, a new complex with some affordable housing across Nebraska Avenue, could accommodate at least some of them, but agreements between Tampa Park owners and federal housing authorities might prevent the apartments from being razed before late 2017, and that could delay stadium construction by a year.

It’s a barbell of a property — two chunks of land connected by a sliver along its northern edge. A stadium could probably squeeze onto either the eastern or western half. Pedestrian bridges could also connect the two halves to each other and to cruise ship parking lots to the south. The waterfront would provide access by boat.

James Lamar, spokesman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said any such fill would require time-consuming studies, permits and permission from multiple agencies. Though man-made, the channel might now hold valuable sea grass, oysters and sponges.

A baseball stadium project would mean moving an adjacent flour mill at a cost estimated at $70 million or more. Downtown redevelopment funds could pay for infrastructure costs related to the project. Current owner Ardent Mills confirmed last week that it is open to discussion.

But a stadium probably cannot fit without a portion of Vinik’s land, too, and he is about to unveil plans for a "billion-dollar" development of hotels, condos, retail and office space on his property. Any hopes that a baseball stadium could somehow land near the Channel District are about to be dashed.

"I don’t think it will ever happen,” said Tampa City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda, one of three council members who attended Jefferson High. The Carver City/Lincoln Gardens neighborhood already must cope with heavy traffic from West Shore, he said.

The four-story building is located along Channelside Drive. Across the parking lot is a cruise ship terminal. The future of Tampa’s cruise industry is in flux. If Tampa’s cruise market survives the future, then terminals will be needed. If the industry phases out the smaller ships that sail out of Tampa, the cruise terminal could be replaced and a stadium might barely squeeze in.

Federal Aviation Administration height restrictions limit buildings south of the football stadium. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own development rights to large plots to the north and east, but have not put in restaurants, hotels or anything else. Adding in a baseball stadium is unlikely to create much density, Buckhorn said.

With the County Commission’s okay, Hagan is organizing a Hills- borough group to lead that discussion. It includes himself, Buckhorn, Tampa Sports Authority president Eric Hart, Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes and Fifth Third Bank Tampa Bay president Brian Lamb.

"What we can’t do is limit our imagination. Our first goal is to keep the Rays in the bay area. The second goal is to find a location that maximizes all the redevelopment potential that a stadium offers. If we can do that at a financially acceptable number, then it becomes a win-win for the whole bay area.”