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Hoping for compromise on a new stadium for the Rays

If not here, where? | June 15, story

Hoping for a stadium compromise We appreciate the Times and Steve Nohlgren's recent attention to alternatives to St. Petersburg's waterfront as a site for the stadium. It has been the concern of the Council of Neighborhood Organizations (CONA) that no systematic, professional study has been made of alternative sites for a new stadium by the city or other independent group. CONA has offered to participate in the organization of a community task force to accomplish this. Typically this would be done before selecting a final site.

With regard to possible redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site itself with a stadium, there are a few additional considerations not mentioned in the article that favor this alternative. Many of the parking resources identified by the Rays owners and the city could also work in reverse. A number of these off site parking areas could serve the Trop site itself as well as the waterfront site.

Keeping the stadium near the Trop site would also help draw customers to new retail there. With regard to redevelopment of the Trop site, we need to remember it is okay to draw outside the lines. There is underutilized and unused land near the 86-acre site that may be incorporated into the development.

The Archstone-Madison developers have now been recommended by the city to redevelop the Trop site. In their original bid this company also offered to redevelop the Trop site with a stadium on site. They saw merit in the idea.

While CONA is on record for keeping the Al Lang Field site under the downtown park zoning, CONA does favor redevelopment and better use of the Trop site than the current vast parking lots we see today. It is true that keeping the current stadium there, or building a new stadium on the site will not allow for as much new residential, professional or commercial development, but it could still be substantial and a significant improvement.

CONA very much appreciates the quality of life the Rays have brought to St. Petersburg and we are hopeful some compromise beneficial to all may be reached regarding the Rays' proposal for a new stadium.

Barbara Heck, president; Will Michaels, vice president, CONA, St. Petersburg Stadium proposal

St. Petersburg needs a vision for the future

If we are to keep major-league baseball in this community, we have to look to 2018 and 2028, not just at today and current conditions. We have to have a vision for what we want St. Petersburg to be, otherwise we might as well be Port Charlotte or Venice.

Whether the new stadium is built in 2012, 2014, or 2016, we will have to replace Tropicana Field or risk losing the team. What better time than now, with construction costs at their lowest point in the last decade? If we wait until later, this $450-million project may become a $750-million project.

Those who oppose the idea of a new stadium will oppose it when it is brought up in the future as well. They're not baseball fans, and that is fine. But why should they be the ones who decide the fate of baseball in this community?

I am not a big supporter of the arts and museums we have in this town, but that does not mean I put up a sign in my yard opposing the opening of another new museum in downtown. I understand that museums and arts help make our community the culturally diverse market it is and invite tourists to come to the Sunshine City.

Scott Stiles, St. Petersburg

A wasteful idea

I can't imagine the thoughts of tearing down Tropicana Field. This truly is a throwaway society. That is a perfectly good building and will be for many years. A new one is not needed. Why waste those millions and millions of dollars when other things are so needed. Why not apply that to our schools and teachers? Our education is in dire trouble and much more important to our future than some ballfield.

Plus using the waterfront is an even more absurd thing. Please don't let this new stadium come to be. We have plenty of tourism without accommodating a few hundred people for some ballgames!

Virginia Norris, Safety Harbor

Major-league benefits

Why I support the new waterfront stadium:

• It will be a beautiful ballpark that will directly attract 20,000 to 30,000 visitors and residents to our waterfront.

• It will enhance patronage of other nearby venues, i.e., various museums, restaurants and shops.

• The housing and shopping area that will replace Tropicana Field (which I have loved and enjoyed) will put 85 acres of land on the tax rolls that is not on the rolls now. In addition, many new homes and shops will be built, which will add immensely to our city in the form of jobs and interesting people.

• Our downtown will become a consistent regional destination point, the accomplishment of which has long been a desirable goal of mine and many others. (I have no doubt that we will begin to see a lot more people from throughout our extended region coming for a three- or four-game series and staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, and visiting all the other beautiful attractions on the waterfront.)

• It will solidify our position with Major League Baseball and more importantly, this ownership group. I think we are very fortunate to have such a positive and thoughtful ownership group. These people, instead of coming out of the box demanding something, came up with a thoughtful plan, with which they have been flexible so far. We need to negotiate hard with them, but we also need to keep the good relationship we now have.

• The unique design, so thoughtfully created, will moderate the temperature. I am convinced that this open-air ballpark in our downtown setting will be the envy of all who watch games on TV from afar.

• Those of us who live here will spend more time downtown visiting all the marvelous activities on our waterfront.

Our team is becoming great, and our city is becoming major league.

Gene Oliver, St. Petersburg

Tropicana Field

Boost fan-friendliness

I took my father to the Rays game Saturday night. It was great — they won. My opinion is that if they reduce all food and beverage prices by 40 percent, they will be amazed at the increased profit and attendance. It is better to sell 10 items and make one dollar each, than to sell one item and make five dollars.

But what really amazed me was the appalling condition of the outside walkways: missing chunks of sidewalk, large holes, very large cracks. Don't they realize that there are those who would love to sue them for injuries? A woman fell on her face right in front of us.

Wanting to spend hundreds of millions on a new stadium and neglecting the current one borders on stupidity. A few thousand dollars' worth of concrete or asphalt would quickly solve the problem.

They have also started to charge handicapped fans for parking. And the handicap spaces were filled long before all those who needed them arrived. Being fan-friendly seems to be silently fading away.

Alex Rodmell, Lutz

Hoping for compromise on a new stadium for the Rays 06/18/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2008 4:27pm]
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