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St. Petersburg looking to breathe life into Al Lang Field

The Tampa Bay Rays’ contract to oversee Al Lang Field expires in June. The city wants to keep the facility busy year-round.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

The Tampa Bay Rays’ contract to oversee Al Lang Field expires in June. The city wants to keep the facility busy year-round.

Spring training devotees fret not: the days of beer, hot dogs and baseball at Al Lang Field could soon return.

City officials are soliciting proposals from management companies eager to organize games and training sessions at the historic ballpark.

The Tampa Bay Rays' contract to manage and operate the waterfront stadium ends in June. The city is now looking for a management company to hold year-round events at the stadium and oversee the site's daily operations.

The city's bid notice calls for experienced professionals who want to manage Al Lang and/or Walter Fuller Park, which also was under the Rays' care during the past decade.

Proposals are due by May 19.

Mayor Rick Baker said keeping baseball-related activities at Al Lang was a significant priority for residents who attended a public discussion on the site's future after the Rays announced plans to move spring training to Port Charlotte.

"The majority said they wanted to keep the stadium there," Baker said.

Any changes at Al Lang should not affect the status of the Saturday Morning Market, a seasonal event held weekly in the parking lot at Al Lang, Baker said.

"The Saturday Morning Market is working there," Baker said. "That's not inconsistent with doing other things there."

Meanwhile, an ongoing policy debate about proposed height restrictions at Al Lang is still being scrutinized by city administrators and boards. Waterfront preservationists want to ban tall buildings from being built at the ballpark.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes June 18.

St. Petersburg looking to breathe life into Al Lang Field 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 4:56pm]
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