This much we know: The Rays are slated to play their last game at Tropicana Field in 2027. They’ll move into their just-announced $1.3 billion stadium next door in 2028.
But what about the rest of the 86-acre Historic Gas Plant District? When will construction begin, and how long will it last?
The city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County always knew this would be a long-term project, as did the Rays and their development partner, global real estate investment and development firm Hines. Of the four proposals submitted to the city, theirs had the longest timeline, wrapping up in 2043 — a good four years longer than the next-longest timeline.
Here’s how the next 20 years of this $6.5 billion project should unfold.
2023 to 2026
Before anything can happen, the city and county must close deals with Hines and the Rays. City Administrator Rob Gerdes and County Administrator Barry Burton said they expect to present term sheets to the City Council and County Commission in October, with final agreements and votes early next year. If all goes as planned, the team and Hines plan to break ground around this time next year.
The first order of business: Parking. The new stadium will go in what is now Tropicana Field’s parking lot, which means the team needs someplace for fans to park in 2025, 2026 and 2027. Starting next year, construction will begin on three parking garages with more than 3,300 spaces.
“It’s really like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” said Hines senior managing partner Michael Harrison. “We’re building new parking facilities that will be dedicated to the ballpark and available for public use when it’s not in play for baseball, and that’ll free up the area that we need to begin construction on the ballpark, as well as Phase 1 of development, which will be surrounding and adjacent to the ballpark.”
That Phase 1, according to the original Rays-Hines proposal — which may be adjusted during negotiations — is split into two sub-phases. During the first, from 2024 to 2026, managers expect to begin all other aspects of the project, aiming to have “a critical mass of uses” open for business before the 2028 season.
Among the projects scheduled for construction during this period: An entertainment venue capable of seating up to 4,000; 50,000 square feet of cultural space including a new Woodson African American Museum of Florida; 400,000 square feet of office space; 80,000 square feet of retail space; and more than 800 residences and 300 hotel rooms. (The project’s total number of residences and hotel rooms has increased from the original proposal, so an exact phase-by-phase count is not available.)
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2027 to 2029
As the Rays wind down their stay in Tropicana Field, developers will be putting the finishing touches on a new ballpark.
By the end of the 2027 season, according to the proposal, developers hope to have begun construction on more than 2,100 on-site multifamily homes. A number of those will be dedicated to affordable, workforce and senior housing. Also coming in 2027: a fourth new parking garage with an additional 770 spaces.
Once Tropicana Field is demolished in 2028, developers will reestablish the street grid west of Booker Creek, including east-west bridges across the creek itself. This process is expected to take 18 months.
In all, from 2027 to 2029, the development will add more homes and hotel rooms, plus 200,000 more square feet of office space and 70,000 square feet of retail. Most of that will go up east of Booker Creek, and north and east of the new stadium.
2030 to 2035
With ballpark development well in the past, the project will pivot to going vertical on the land where Tropicana Field once sat, starting closer to the western edge of Booker Creek. This far out, the numbers are malleable, but the proposal calls for another 1,900 residents, 175 hotel rooms, 600,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of retail space to go up during this time.
2036 to 2043
Thirteen years from now, development will focus on the southwest corner of the site, farthest from the new stadium, as developers finish out what’s left. By the end, the plan is to have 6,000 residential units on- and off-site, including at least 1,200 dedicated to affordable and workforce housing, 1.4 million square feet of office space, 750,000 square feet of retail, 750 hotel rooms and 100,000 square feet of convention space.
The goal is to have everything wrapped up in 2043 — at about the time the Rays’ new ballpark turns 15.