ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch announced on Wednesday that the city is starting from scratch on the development of Tropicana Field and relaunching the bid process.
Welch said he was impressed with the efforts from the two finalists in the current RFP process but said, "our environment has changed in many ways since the initial RFP was issued in July of 2020, and we must ensure the RFP meets our current environment and realities and incorporates the most up-to-date information."
The city said the following conditions must be considered in the new process:
- The Pandemic has changed the way we work and has affected the potential need for office space.
- The cost of rental housing and home ownership has skyrocketed, bringing higher priority to the need for affordable and workforce housing.
- Supply chain and labor issues are impacting the cost of capital projects.
- The need for intentional equity and equitable development is highlighted by results of the city's Disparity Study and Structural Racism report completed after the issuance of the original RFP.
- The community's desire for equity is reflected in the Community Benefits model adopted by City Council last year.
The city said the new process is also an important opportunity to bring certainty to the future of the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Pete.
"I am optimistic we will choose that right path, one that will bring jobs, equitable and diverse business opportunities, meet our need for housing,meeting space and innovative economic drivers, and support a state-of-the-art home for the Rays for decades to come," Mayor Welch said.
The new RFP release is being targeted for August. The city said it will also ask for feedback online and hold a series of community outreach events during the process.
A form to give input is online here, as well as more information on the process.
Sugar Hill Community Partners released the following statement after Mayor Welch's announcement:
We appreciate Mayor Welch’s thoughtful approach to the Tropicana Field redevelopment and respect his decision to continue the evaluation process.
We have worked tirelessly since fall 2020 to develop, expand, and refine our community-driven vision for the Tropicana site: an inclusive, sustainable neighborhood that is a catalyst for job creation and economic growth.
We continue to be inspired by the hundreds of residents, including community, business, and faith leaders, that we have been privileged to engage and work with throughout this process. We are inspired by their commitment to St. Petersburg and to making the city the very best version of itself.
We look forward to continuing that effort as we move to the next phase of the selection process.
With respect to the Rays, Sugar Hill Community Partners has deep experience developing stadium and stadium-anchored districts. We accordingly welcome the opportunity to work with Mayor Welch and the Rays to fully assess opportunities for a new ballpark at the Trop and to ensure that the project creates maximum value for St. Petersburg.
Midtown Development principal Alex Vadia released the following statement after Mayor Welch's announcement:
"Midtown Development has been honored to spend the last few years working with our partners in the City of St. Petersburg on the Tropicana Field RFP. We have made many friends in the St. Petersburg Community, including Watson Haynes of the Pinellas County Urban League. We are truly grateful for their friendship. We wish Mayor Ken Welch and the residents of the City of St. Petersburg all the best in their future efforts to redevelop Tropicana Field."