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Kriseman: Tropicana Field pick could come ‘within the next couple of weeks’

Months after the original timetable for choosing redevelopment plan, the mayor says he’s zeroing in.
St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman unveiled the seven proposals under consideration for the redevelopment of the city's Tropicana Field site on Jan. 26.
St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman unveiled the seven proposals under consideration for the redevelopment of the city's Tropicana Field site on Jan. 26. [ BOYZELL HOSEY | Times ]
Published Aug. 20, 2021
Updated Aug. 23, 2021

According to the city of St. Petersburg’s official timeline for the redevelopment of Tropicana Field, Mayor Rick Kriseman was supposed to pick his preferred proposal for the 86-acre site as early as May.

May came and went. So did June and July. And most of August.

Now, days before a primary in the race to name his successor, Kriseman says his choice of the two remaining finalist proposals is imminent.

“It’s still my intention to make a decision and choose one of the two,” Kriseman told the Tampa Bay Times this week. “Don’t know (when) yet. I would think within the next couple of weeks.”

After unveiling seven qualifying proposals in January, Kriseman narrowed the shortlist to two. One, from Miami’s Midtown Development, would spend up to $3.8 billion on offices, homes, parks and a hotel and conference center. Another, from Sugar Hill Community Partners, would build parks, offices, homes, a hotel and a 1.1-million-square-foot convention center, at a price tag of up to $3.1 billion.

Related: How St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field plans stack up on parks, housing and history

Kriseman said he’s still evaluating all the details, old and new, the city has received about the two plans, and his staff has been making comparisons that will inform his decision. Those include “strengths and weaknesses” analyses from more than 20 staffers.

He said he avoided setting a firm deadline because it could create one of two impressions: That people would claim his mind was already made up before a thorough evaluation, or that he’d blown past an arbitrary deadline.

Related: As Kriseman readies Trop pick, here are finalists' 'strengths and weaknesses'

Midtown principal Alex Vadia said he had no insight on when Kriseman would announce his pick, but believed it would come soon.

“The work to get to this point has been extensive for all parties,” Vadia said in a statement. “Since the shortlist, we have continued to clarify our proposal and ensure that the mayor and community understand our capabilities and our vision for the future of the Tropicana site.”

Sugar Hill has been finessing components of its plan as it has conversations with community members, said team spokesperson Missy Hurley.

“It’s a big decision, so we’re not surprised to see the mayor and city administrators be very thoughtful and intentional in the process,” Hurley said.

It remains unclear what impact Kriseman’s endorsement of a plan will have.

The City Council, which controls the city’s funding, has repeatedly said it won’t commit to any redevelopment proposal until the Rays say more about their proposed plan to split seasons between St. Petersburg and Montreal. As negotiations between the team and city continue, Tampa leaders, including Mayor Jane Castor, have pressed forward with their pitch for the Rays to build a new stadium in Hillsborough County.

All St. Petersburg mayoral candidates have said Kriseman’s successor should take over the selection process, as redeveloping the Trop site will take years and span multiple administrations. One candidate, Democrat Ken Welch, said Kriseman’s research and efforts should be taken into consideration when picking a plan. Kriseman endorsed Welch for mayor in July.

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Related: St. Petersbug mayoral candidates: We won't commit to Kriseman's Trop pick

Kriseman has had other issues keeping him busy this summer, from the Delta variant surge of COVID-19 to Red Tide that’s plagued the city’s shorelines. A lawsuit between the Rays’ minority and majority owners at one point clouded the potential for negotiations with the team. And he does not feel pressured to make a pick by Tuesday’s primary.

“I will make my decision when I feel like I’ve got as much info as I can have,” Kriseman said, “making what i think is the best decision for the city moving forward.”

Related: The Rays, the mayor and Montreal: St. Petersburg's stadium drama, explained