Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Clock is ticking: As Tampa Bay Rays look in Tampa, St. Pete bides time on Trop plans

ST. PETERSBURG — When the City Council took a historic vote to let the Tampa Bay Rays look outside the city for a new home last month, Mayor Rick Kriseman touted a clause in the agreement preventing the club from making any decision until at least July.

That delay would give the city time to build a case for keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg, Kriseman said.

The mechanism for pulling off that coup would be a master plan that would show how Tropicana Field's 85 acres could be developed with or without a baseball stadium.

But as of Friday, the city still hasn't sent out requests for consultants to draw up the master plan. In addition, the Kriseman administration hasn't decided when it will put out a request, said the city's development administrator, Alan DeLisle.

"I can't give you an exact time. Sooner rather than later," DeLisle said. "I know the mayor wants us to get it out ASAP."

That nothing has been sent out yet worries council member Karl Nurse.

"The clock is ticking," Nurse said. "Clearly, it's in our interest to compress that timeline so we're in a position to present the Rays with our best-case scenario."

Meanwhile, Rays executives are meeting with Tampa and Hillsborough County officials. But officials under Kriseman say they aren't worried about running out of time.

"No, not at all," DeLisle said. "We believe we'll be there with the Rays and their timeline."

The Rays declined to comment.

"Our goal is to get a plan in front of the Rays ASAP," he said. "But we want to make sure we've done our homework very, very thoroughly with or without baseball."

Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding approved by the council Jan. 14, the Rays will pay up to $100,000 for the master plan. The agreement also called for the team to wait six months before it makes a decision on where to build a new stadium.

DeLisle said that once a consultant is selected, the process will move quickly because the city studied the site relatively recently, when the Rays pitched a plan for a waterfront stadium in 2007.

DeLisle isn't sure how long the process will take. He said city staff is still discussing how long to allow consultants to respond when the request for qualifications is issued, but they'll probably give them a few weeks.

After that, it's unclear how long the plan will take to complete, but some broad concepts should be ready for the Rays to review fairly quickly, he said.

For comparison's sake, the downtown waterfront master plan took nearly 10 months to complete.

"I don't want to be in the position where, six months into the process, we don't have a master plan and don't have anything to offer the Rays," Nurse said.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. [email protected]

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