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St. Petersburg vote on Rays stadium deal delayed until May

A city spokesperson said the timing for when official documents will be ready is “flexible.”
 
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, left, and City Council member Ed Montanari, right, attend the city’s Tampa Bay Rays postseason event on Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023, at City Hall in St. Petersburg hours ahead of our hometown team hosting the wildcard playoffs against the Texas Rangers.
Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, left, and City Council member Ed Montanari, right, attend the city’s Tampa Bay Rays postseason event on Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023, at City Hall in St. Petersburg hours ahead of our hometown team hosting the wildcard playoffs against the Texas Rangers. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 15|Updated Feb. 20

A vote on whether to approve St. Petersburg’s deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and its development partner Hines for a new stadium and surrounding redevelopment won’t happen until at least May.

St. Petersburg on Thursday confirmed that its timeline posted online, which has those agreements coming before the City Council for official approval in “early 2024,″ would have to be pushed back. Mayor Ken Welch said at his State of the City address on Jan. 30 that final agreements were expected to come before the council for a vote in April.

The City Council last week unanimously approved council member Ed Montanari’s request to have two committee meetings on the project, one for the stadium and the other for the greater Historic Gas Plant redevelopment, with at least two weeks for council members to review all documents in preparation. Financing is a highlighted topic for both meetings.

City spokesperson Alizza Punzalan-Randle said the timing for when the final Historic Gas Plant development documents will be ready is “flexible.” She said the city is working to hold those meetings in April, with dates yet to be determined and a vote taking place in May.

If the deal is approved, the city’s timeline has construction scheduled to begin this fall. Phase one of the development would open by Fall 2027 with the Opening Day 2028 scheduled in the new stadium.

The last time the council was briefed as a whole was for the first time back in October. City staff has been having individual meetings with council members this month to go over the deal.

Rays co-president Brian Auld emphasized at the October meeting the importance of the timeline.

“That is probably the single most important thing we want you to leave today with from our standpoint,” he said.

After that meeting, Auld told the Tampa Bay Times that the team’s financial numbers in the deal are dependent on construction beginning this fall.

“Any delay is going to fundamentally alter the entire agreement,” he said at the time.

On Thursday, Auld gave the following statement through a spokesperson.

“We are working diligently with the City and County to responsibly move forward as quickly as possible for final approval this spring,” he said. “Our deadline remains the same, to be ready for first pitch on Opening Day 2028.”