Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tropicana Field has a first date, not a proposal

Today is a big day in the process of deciding whether the Tampa Bay Rays will get a new waterfront stadium in downtown St. Petersburg.

There's a 10 a.m. deadline for developers to give the city their proposals for what to do with the site of Tropicana Field, the existing stadium.

The idea is that the old stadium site will help pay for the new one, by being sold, redeveloped as private property, and added to the tax rolls.

So, here's hoping for all the best this morning.

Bring on the artists' renderings! Bring on the green space, the shops! Bring on the urban villages!

But let's be crystal clear about what today is not.

Today is not the day that "proves" the stadium idea will "work." We'll still be a long way from that.

The only thing today will show is whether there are any companies with any ideas that might work.

I do not mean to sound like a party-pooper. I want the plan to work. But at times like these, St. Petersburg is prone to being swept off its feet like a teenager with a crush.

How 20 years fly! Consider an article in this newspaper dated March 20, 1988:

ST. PETERSBURG — The Bay Plaza Cos. plan to build a Mediterranean village of shops, offices and restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg and finish by 1992.

Company officials say it will be an ornate, "food and fashion" mall featuring two nationally known department stores and at least a dozen new restaurants near the waterfront. …

Company president Neil Elsey predicted Friday that the Bay Plaza partners actually will build all the projects in three years, starting by January 1989 and ending in 1992.

This gasbaggery was enough for St. Petersburg to fork over its downtown, its property, its rights of way and its historical heritage. And though it all came to naught, the city, in pathetic denial, allowed it to drag on for years.

I am sure that the companies making proposals today are first-rate and honorable.

But that will not be enough. Nothing will be enough except the eventual contract.

Here is what that contract ought to say:

The taxpayers will never have to contribute any other money.

I don't care if the stadium gets only half-built and sits there rusting.

I don't care if World War III breaks out in the meantime, or if the Tropicana developer files Chapter 11, Chapter 7, or Chapter Zillion.

Never, ever, not one dime.

Here is what would be good: a vault filled with $300-million in platinum bars, with the city holding the only key, to be used the first time that the Tropicana site fails to generate the required revenue.

I would also like the developers' firstborn children, and their grandchildren's piggy banks. I'd like insurance policies and performance bonds, too.

That's the attitude that St. Petersburg should maintain as it opens the envelopes.

But if history is any guide, by the end of the day, city leaders will be gushing about how "excited" they are. And they will be scrawling the name of the developer in their school notebooks, surrounded by little hearts, and sighing.

• • •

Got a question or comment about current events? I'm holding a live chat on TroxBlog from noon to 1 p.m. today. Look under the "Blogs" menu at

Tropicana Field has a first date, not a proposal 03/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 10:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Romano: The choice does not have to be poverty or gentrification

    Local Government

    The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.

    The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food is refusing to give the city information on the restaurant's sales as required by his contract to occupy the city-owned Manhattan Casino. The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent.
  2. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]
  3. New 6.2 magnitude earthquake centered in southern Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Geological Survey says the new earthquake to strike Mexico had a magnitude of 6.2 and was centered in the southern state of Oaxaca.

  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests


    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018


    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.