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Tampa looks to be more pedestrian-friendly, with or without the Rays | Editorial
It’s a positive step, whether a stadium comes to the city or not.
The city skyline, left, and a Kforce building, right, seen in October at a possible site for a Tampa stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The city skyline, left, and a Kforce building, right, seen in October at a possible site for a Tampa stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Dec. 3, 2021

The Rays haven’t landed in Tampa yet, but already, even the prospect of a deal has the city moving to make its streets more pedestrian-friendly.

Two projects on a wish list for $21 million in state infrastructure funds would provide “corridors” linking Tampa Heights and the Channel District to the former Kforce headquarters site in Ybor City, where the Major League Baseball team is said to be focused on building a new ballpark. Rays officials have discussed the idea with Mayor Jane Castor’s administration, which already was exploring ways to expand mobility options in the urban core.

It’s obvious that both sides would benefit from new bike and pedestrian corridors. Rays fans would have more options for getting to the games, relieving the team of mega-parking needs and easing congestion near the stadium. For the city, the corridors would link the ballpark to major destinations downtown, from the Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon Park to the fast-growing waterfront district.

The corridors could make for a lively atmosphere that spins off new attractions and businesses. They would reduce the premium for parking and offset the costs of constructing new garages. The envisioned stadium site in the historic Latin Quarter is also surrounded by tight streets and development that will make stadium parking a challenge. Anything that gets people out of their cars will contribute to the area’s vibrancy, character and urban appeal.

As the Tampa Bay Times reminded this week, the team doesn’t yet have a deal to move from St. Petersburg when its lease at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season. But regardless, these discussions are focusing Tampa on the need for bike, pedestrian and mass transit improvements across the city center. Practically speaking, officials need to recognize that Tampa Bay is still car-centric; not everyone will hop a scooter or hoof it to the ballpark. But the more options, the better — with or without a ballpark.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.