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City sets stadium timetable

A developer for the Tropicana Field site would be picked May 1.

By AARON SHAROCKMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published December 8, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG -- The city hopes to select a developer for Tropicana Field by May 1 and approve a fall stadium referendum a month later, according to an aggressive and detailed timetable released by the city on Friday.

The schedule calls for the city to begin soliciting proposals from developers for the Trop site next month, with responses due March 18.

The city timeline lays out the path toward a possible November referendum on the Rays' proposal to construct a $450-million waterfront stadium. But it does not guarantee it, city officials insisted Friday.

The project could be halted or postponed at any point, officials said. And the city has not committed to supporting the project.

City Council chairman Jamie Bennett said Friday he believes the city's timeline is tight, but achievable.

"We don't have much of a choice," Bennett said. The city "is working with the time frame the Rays gave us."

The Rays announced late last month a proposal to build a new 34,000-seat stadium on the current site of Al Lang Field, which largely would be paid for by the simultaneous redevelopment of the publicly owned Tropicana site. The plan was first revealed by the St. Petersburg Times' Web site, tampabay.com.

The team says that between the sale of the 85-acre Trop site, and the city and county property taxes generated from its redevelopment, more than $250-million could be generated for the construction of a new stadium.

The response from developers will help determine if that's realistic.

City officials will solicit developers' bids in the form of a request for proposals, or RFP.

City senior development administrator Rick Mussett said the request will be written broadly to attract the most ideas.

One developer could imagine a residential community. Another could envision a International Plaza-type mall.

The Rays already have lined up one developer, Hines Interests of Houston, which may bid on the site. But Bennett said he believes other national developers may be interested as well.

The first public discussion will come Jan. 10, during a City Council work session.

The RFP is scheduled to be released eight days later.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to get all the information that the citizens of St. Pete will need to make a proper decision," Bennett said. "There's some very exciting things about this process. But we have to make sure people have ample opportunity to study and examine the issues -- good and bad."

 

FAST FACTS: Key dates for Rays' proposal
  • Jan. 18: City solicits proposals for Tropicana Field site
  • May 1: Council picks Tropicana developer
  • June 5: Council authorizes Nov. 4 referendum
  • Aug. 7: City and Rays approve stadium development agreement

[Last modified December 8, 2007, 00:50:02]


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