Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Politics

St. Pete City Council's Jim Kennedy proposes study of Tropicana Field property's potential

ST. PETERSBURG — Council member Jim Kennedy plans to ask his colleagues to bring in the Urban Land Institute to provide a detailed analysis of the stadium impasse with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Trouble is, ULI says it doesn't really do that kind of work. The organization, which assembles teams of out-of-town experts to offer fresh-eyed, wide-pan ideas for specific challenges and issues has offered proposals to transform downtown Clearwater and St. Petersburg's waterfront. But a panel of experts usually spends about a week on an issue, which isn't enough time to deliver the data that Kennedy wants. And the group says it's reluctant to wade into a political fight.

"I'm not sure at this particular time it's best to do it or that this level of detail is reasonable to expect," said Jim Cloar, chairman of ULI's district council.

Kennedy's proposal, which he will ask the council to consider July 23, would ask ULI to look at Tropicana Field's development potential with or without a baseball stadium. He envisions ULI would estimate capital costs for a stadium with and without a retractable roof and the site's overall investment value. He also wants the group to compare Trop redevelopment with the Atlanta Braves' new site in Cobb County, Ga. among other requests.

The city and Rays would split the cost of such a study. When ULI studied the city's waterfront in 2013 the price was $125,000. The Rays have said they are willing to share in the costs of a study.

"In my mind, it's a way to get the Rays to evaluate the Trop without evaluating other areas," Kennedy said. He voted against Mayor Rick Kriseman's proposed deal with the team last year that would have allowed the Rays to look at possible sites in Hillsborough County.

On Tuesday, the reaction in City Hall to Kennedy's proposal was muted.

"The mayor will take it under consideration," Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby said.

The Rays declined comment.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago on Twitter.

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