Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Pinellas County's 17 possible sites for Rays ballpark

As efforts ramp up to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in Pinellas County — and ward off a heavy challenge from Hillsborough County — officials recently identified 10 possible locations for a new stadium. A few were new industrial sites; others have been discussed before. To add to the 10, county commissioners recently asked staffers to find more St. Petersburg sites. They have not made those additions to the list public yet, but at least a few of them could be familiar, such as the Toytown landfill. Here's a look at the 10 originals and a handful of potential others.

Related: Waterfront Rays stadium site surfaces near Gandy Bridge

1. Airco Golf Course

128 acres, 13690 Stonybrook Drive, unincorporated

OWNER: St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

PROS: Land has been idle since golf course closed in 2011. The county-owned property, valued at $7.4 million, could be cheaper and include more flexible terms than if it was privately owned. The midcounty site is closer to Tampa than St. Petersburg.

CONS: Would require major roadway upgrades to handle traffic. Would need expensive parking garages. Federal Aviation Administration expressed safety concerns in 2008 over the potential height of a stadium. Lacks interstate access.

2. Cheezem property

33 acres, southwest corner of 118th Avenue N and 49th Street N, Pinellas Park

OWNER: Cheezem family/Pinellas County (2 acres)

PROS: The land meets the Rays' requirement of 20 acres.

CONS: It's all wetlands. Not often mentioned as possible location. Doesn't meet Rays criteria as having access to business center and room for neighboring retail. Even property owner Mike Cheezem said the wetlands would be an obstacle to getting building permits. "I personally think the Tropicana site is the best spot for a stadium," said Cheezem, also president of JMC Communities in St. Petersburg. "The main thing is the Rays need to be successful. A smaller stadium is a part of that."

3. Clearwater Cay site

20 acres, northeast corner of U.S. 19 N and Belleair Road, Clearwater

OWNER: Clearwater Cay Holdings/Arsany 66th Street LLC

PROS: The land meets the Rays' requirement of 20 acres.

CONS: Multiple owners could drive up the cost to acquire the property. No interstate access. Doesn't meet Rays' criteria to be near business center and have room for neighboring retail. Not close to working professionals who make impromptu ticket purchases.

4. Derby Lane

135 acres, 10490 Gandy Blvd N, unincorporated

OWNER: St. Petersburg Kennel Club

PROS: Large site close to Tampa. Lots of space to build parking structures. Public financing could be available if St. Petersburg annexed the land into the city. The roadway improvements under way on Gandy Boulevard could help ease traffic flow into the area. "Should (the Rays) want to talk, our door is always open for conversation. Talking is free," track president Richard Winnings told the Tampa Bay Times in 2015. The company declined to comment last week. State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, believes the site is one the best outside of St. Petersburg for a stadium.

CONS: Lacks proximity to urban center, working professionals and entertainment areas. Not walkable. Price could be comparatively high, as the site includes an operating race track and poker room, not just raw land.

5. Glasbrenner site

29.5 acres, 3565 126th Ave. N, Clearwater

OWNER: Recycle Land LLC

PROS: Plenty of space. The owner would consider selling, saying the land is easy for fans to reach from north Pinellas and Tampa. "It's important to keep the Rays here," company president Pate Clements said. "We're very well located."

CONS: Centered in industrial area with no interstate access or other nearby amenities to draw fans. Land could be expensive since owner would have to relocate concrete-crushing operation to another site.

6. Kenyon Dodge dealership site

21.2 acres, 19320 and 19400 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater

OWNER: Sunset Pontiac GMC Truck S Inc./Kenyon Dodge Inc.

PROS: Meets the Rays' requirement of 20 acres.

CONS: Multiple owners could drive up the cost to buy the land. The property lacks the interstate access to draw fans from business centers in Tampa or St. Petersburg.

7. Orange Blossom Grove/Norris dealership site

34.9 acres, southwest corner of U.S. 19 N and Belleair Road, Largo

OWNER: Dick Norris Pontiac GMC Inc./ Dennis R. Deloach Jr. Trustee/Duke Energy Florida/Gladys J. Smith Rev Trust

PROS: Meets the Rays' requirement of 20 acres.

CONS: Multiple land owners can make a deal harder to work out. Not close to interstate. No parking structures. The property is already under contract for a possible townhouse development. "Belleair (Road) would NEVER be approved, and I'm confident the neighborhood would picket City Hall with pitchforks and torches," Largo City Commissioner Curtis Holmes wrote in a recent email.

8. Oldsmar Race Track Road site

88.4 acres, southeast corner of Forest Lake Boulevard S and Race Track Road, Oldsmar

OWNER: Tampa Bay Downs Inc.

PROS: Lots of open land that straddles Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Location could has potential to draw funding from both counties. City leaders recently pitched the site to team officials.

CONS: Traffic congestion with no interstate access. Majority of land is in flood zone. "To me, Oldsmar's like Georgia," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's chief of staff, Kevin King, said in April, drawing the ire of Oldsmar and county leaders. Real estate professionals have said the owners aren't looking to sell.

9. Showtime (formerly Sunshine) Speedway

19.5 acres, 12501 40th St. N, Pinellas Park

OWNER: Florida Department of Transportation

PROS: Publicly owned land could come with cheap price.

CONS: A future interstate connection is slated to run through property. Would need parking structures. Not walkable or near business districts flush with working professionals.

10. Tropicana Field

86 acres, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg

OWNER: Pinellas County

PROS: Favored by city leaders. Good access to I-275 and I-175. Parking in place. Urban location close to restaurants and bars. Price of land is cheap since it's publicly owned. Ripe for other development around a new stadium. A city-led redevelopment master plan with a baseball stadium on its 85 acres is currently under way.

CONS: Current site doesn't draw fans. Would a new stadium on the site be a significantly better draw? Team has said it wants out of location.

Here are some of the possible locations that Pinellas County officials are expected to release in August.

11. Al Lang Stadium

11 acres, 230 First St. SE, St. Petersburg

OWNER: City of St. Petersburg

PROS: Close to interstate. Some parking garages in area. Great waterfront views and close to restaurants, bars and some hotels. Price could be cheap since city owns the land. Could meet many Rays' requirements to be a catalyst for development, regional connectivity and site accessibility.

CONS: The Rays only gained marginal support and abandoned plans in 2008 for a $450 million open-air stadium on the site. City leaders prefer Tropicana Field site and say Al Lang is not an option. City would have to evict Tampa Bay Rowdies.

12. Albert Whitted Airport

110 acres, 107 Eighth Ave. SE, St. Petersburg

OWNER: City of St. Petersburg

PROS: Plenty of space with waterfront views of Tampa Bay and downtown St. Petersburg. Team would not have to negotiate with private land owner over price. Location could attract future entertainment, dining and retail amenities that the Rays desire.

CONS: City leaders say the site is not an option. Voters must approve any sale or long-term lease of the city's waterfront or park land. Voters rejected a 2003 plan to convert property to a park. Lacks direct interstate access and would require costly parking structures.

13. Bridgeway Acres Landfill

730 acres, 3095 114th Ave. N, St. Petersburg

OWNER: Pinellas County

PROS: Not many. Meets Rays' requirement to be 20 acres.

CONS: It's an operating landfill. Doesn't meet Rays criteria as having access to business center and room for neighboring retail. Years of trash build-up could make it difficult to drive pilings deep enough into the soil to support a stadium and parking structures.

14. Carillon Town Center

17 acres, Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg

OWNER: Echelon, a St. Petersburg-based development firm

PROS: Centrally located near interstate and easier to reach than other possible locations for fans coming from Tampa. Offers potential to integrate stadium into business district. Large population within 30-minute drive. The site has already attracted hotels, restaurants and apartments.

CONS: Traffic around the site is already congested. The property owner proposed building a mixed-use stadium, office and residential project on 16 acres in 2012. But the Rays refused to entertain the idea unless the team could explore sites throughout region. Parking during day games would be a nightmare with thousands of extra vehicles pouring into area. Major Carillon corporations, such as Raymond James Financial, have not signaled support for a neighborhood stadium.

15. Former sod farm

93 acres, Gandy Boulevard, St. Petersburg

OWNER: Jabil Circuit Inc.

PROS: Meets Rays' requirement of 20 acres. Located between two interstate exits and easier to reach for fans in Tampa.

CONS: Land cost. Needs parking structures. Not walkable or near entertainment areas. Jabil did not respond to a request for comment to discuss the site.

16. Snug Harbor

39 acres, Gandy Boulevard N and Snug Harbor Road NE, St. Petersburg

OWNER: Gandy Harbor I, II and III LLC, entities owned by Ronald and Deborah Roseman.

PROS: After years of talk about potential locations, site surfaced several months ago. Owner wants to sell. Part of land is on water, allowing boat access, bay views and possible connection to proposed ferry service from Tampa. The roadway improvements on Gandy Boulevard have the potential to bring "massive development" such as dining and entertainment to the area, Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice said.

CONS: A hefty price tag of $30 million. Filling in wetlands would increase construction costs. Doesn't meet Rays criteria of having access to business center.

17. Toytown

240 acres, Interstate 275 and Roosevelt Boulevard

OWNER: Pinellas County

PROS: The old county landfill is centrally located and has plenty of room for parking. Property has often been mentioned as a site for a new stadium. "Some of the developers contacting us now are well aware that they'd have to build on garbage and are okay with doing that," Mike Meidel, the county's economic development director, said in 2015. "The tradeoff is they're expecting to get the land for practically nothing."

CONS: The county predicted in 2010 that a new interstate exit would cost $50 million. Environmental issues could arise. Pilings would have to be driven through years of trash into enough soil to support stadium and parking structures. After Major League Baseball objected this year, the Atlanta Braves abandoned efforts to build a spring training complex on the site.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Mike Cheezem is the president of JMC Communities. The company was misidentified in an earlier version of the story.

     
     
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