Leaders at the University of South Florida have sent a letter to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman requesting a seat at the table for future discussions regarding the redevelopment of Tropicana Field.
With two shortlisted proposals in consideration for the 86-acre site, USF asked to be included in final conversations in a letter signed by interim president Rhea Law and regional chancellor for the St. Petersburg campus Martin Tadlock.
“The concept of a Tech Campus as part of the development of the Tropicana Site is a major opportunity for our university,” the letter said. “We are committed to working closely with the City of St. Petersburg and the selected developer in the fulfillment of these major economic opportunities. The importance of workforce development, higher education, medical research and innovation are all key factors in our decision to participate in this process.”
The St. Petersburg City Council has previously said it won’t commit to any proposal until the Rays further elaborate on their proposed two-city plan, while the candidates running for mayor believe the winner should get a say. USF says it would like time to consider financial and facility requirements related to the proposals. The letter also said the university is committed to pursuing partnerships with other organizations.
Tadlock said USF’s role in any project would be defined by the developers, but that the university wished for the city to look to it as a partner in helping decide its future.
“The reason it’s important is that we are the public research institution for Tampa Bay,” he said. “When we think of innovation and research, this should be the university thought of, here. We want to continue to be a good partner to the city. ... Research and innovation is going to drive the community of the future. That’s just a given.”
The mayor received the letter Monday, said Kevin King, chief of policy and public engagement for the city.
“The mayor was very pleased to receive the letter from USF,” King said in an email. “He believes this is another reason why we should continue to move forward with redevelopment.”