Edwards kicks around his next ideas | story, July 2
Don't cram cars onto waterfront
Did I read that right that Bill Edwards, owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, is aggressively making a push to build a new stadium on the waterfront? Really? Is he really going to put this community through another battle? Doesn't he understand that, even though he has had some notable accomplishments in St. Pete, the waterfront is not the place to cram countless cars and loud, screaming fans in an otherwise pastoral location?
Why can't Mr. Edwards be a team player in St. Pete and embrace the changes that Mayor Rick Kriseman and the city have promised to upgrade Al Lang Stadium? Have the Rowdies ruled out taking over the Tropicana Field site since the Tampa Bay Rays are probably going to move?
It seems that the $250,000 that the city has devoted to Al Lang is more than enough, considering that Mr. Edwards stated that $130,000 was needed for upgrades.
Considering that we have been fighting over the pier for the last few years, due to the last administration pushing their ideas down our throats and disregarding the locals, is Mr. Edwards really going to put us through another contentious fight that could take years?
Ivylyn Harrell, St. Petersburg
Aim toward more realistic goal
Bill Edwards is an big-idea entrepreneur. We need that in St. Pete. I love what he's doing with Sundial, and the Mahaffey Theatre is jamming. But we've already had the Tampa Bay Rays take a run at a waterfront stadium at Al Lang and it was soundly defeated.
I attended the Waterfront Planning Commission public input meeting at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with about 300 other locals in 2013, and the overwhelming consensus from surveys done at each table was that Al Lang and its parking lots should be turned into active park space — i.e., tennis, volleyball, exercise circuit, etc. The runnerup opinion, and well in the minority, was to leave it intact as is. No one, to my knowledge, endorsed a new stadium. It's a nonstarter.
I think Mr. Edwards is tilting at windmills at this point. I'm a Rowdies fan, but his interest in an enlarged waterfront stadium for them sounds like Don Quixote on an ego trip.
There's tremendous residential development going in on the south side of St. Pete. The area is well underserved with access to park space in comparison to the north side. I wish he'd put his energy into a realistic goal of a new stadium in a more appropriate place, where I'll happily go and cheer the Rowdies on!
Brian McNeela, St. Petersburg
Grateful for what St. Pete offers
My partner and I live in Tampa, but we carefully spend most of our entertainment budget in St. Petersburg. A trip across a bridge is a small price to pay for the wonderful range of restaurants, galleries, studios, theaters, opera and welcoming ambiance of the Sunshine City. We feel that our expenditures are reinvested by locals who are not content to rest on their laurels, making life even better for both visitors and permanent residents.
On a recent Friday night, we were overwhelmed with the world-class production of West Side Story by the St. Petersburg Opera. The production was propelled by a 20-piece orchestra which would have pleased even the demanding Leonard Bernstein. The professional level of acting, dance and singing raised the excitement of the evening to an emotional and memorable experience. The casting for this show even included a super performance by an honest-to-goodness Broadway star who most recently played Spider-Man on Broadway. This opera company somehow manages to step up its level of performance with each production.
On Saturday night, we lined up with the huge crowd of people for Pride festivities along Central Avenue and marveled at the variety everywhere we looked. In the parade, floats and cars held representatives from government, bars, social services and many churches, with precision marching groups on foot and even some huge machines taking over the role of the men who used to walk behind the horses with brooms and buckets.
The audience was just as diverse as the parade. We stood next to some apparently straight families with kids whose primary interest seemed to be catching beads or glow sticks. Nobody seemed to be in the least shocked by fabulously outrageous drag or an infrequent view of considerable skin. Although Pride is owned and driven by the LGBTQ community, it's rapidly becoming something resembling a citywide celebration of the diversity and generosity of this gracious and cosmopolitan community.
On Saturday, July 12, we'll be in town for the monthly Arts Walk during the full moon. In the meantime, we can choose between the Museum of Fine Arts, American Stage or Freefall Theater and have meals ranging from Chattaway's to the spiffy Beach Drive venues. And all of this is in the off-season.
We're grateful to the artists and merchants and city leaders of St. Pete who provide those amenities that make the Tampa Bay area an enviable place to live.
Jim Patrick, Tampa
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