ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s one of the biggest projects in St. Petersburg’s history: The redevelopment of Tropicana Field. City leaders have narrowed the final list down to four proposals and starting April 5th, you’ll be able to weigh in on your favorite options.
Mark Ferguson’s bar and grill, Ferg’s, is just steps from Tropicana Field, a site with 86 acres of land and with endless possibilities he says, “It’s a beautiful site. There’s nothing in America like it.”
Soon, it could be home to affordable housing, office space, education, retail, parks and of course, the possibility of another Rays baseball stadium. The team hasn’t decided if they’ll stay or go when their contract ends in 2027. They also haven’t given any public input on the four proposals being considered.
Another big focus of the proposals is honoring the history of the site, which was once home to a thriving black community before it was razed to make way for the ballpark back in the 1980s.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity for us to make right our wrongs,” said Corey Givens Jr., a 4th generation St. Petersburg native. Givens Jr’s grandma lived on the site when it was the Gas Plant District and up until her death, she wondered if her relatives were still buried there. On Friday, the search for lost graves continued in the Tropicana Field Lot 1 Parking area.
“We have not honored them. We’ve built over them and it’s tragic that this seems to happen most in our black communities,” Givens Jr. added. “What’s most important to me is that we honor the history of this site.”
Gwendolyn Reese also wants her family’s history to be honored as part of the renovation. She lived on the site as a young girl. “When a certain segment of the community looks at Tropicana Field they have the memories and the stories of what happened to the community that was there,” she explained.
Developers have proposed memorials, plaques and history walks for the renovated site. Some even have plans to build bridges to connect to the nearby historic black communities.
Developing the 86-acre site will be pricey. The proposals range from $643 million to $3.8 billion dollars. A portion of that would come from public funding. Yet, city leaders say the focus will be on attracting people to the area all the time— not just on game days.
“I just think it’s incredible because it’s bringing life back to what was a wonderful, vibrant community full of life,” Reese added.
The first public meetings to hear more about these proposals are Monday, April 5 (6-8:30 PM), Wednesday, April 7 (6-8:30 PM) and Thursday, April 8 (6-8:30 PM). Monday’s meeting is virtual. The other two will be held at the Coliseum.
St. Pete is also setting up several showrooms where you can view all the renderings starting the following week on April 12th. Those locations will be:
· North Library: 861 70th Ave. N.
· Mirror Lake Library: 280 5th St. N.
· JW Cate Recreation Center: 5801 22nd Ave. N.
· Enoch Davis Recreation Center: 1111 18th Ave. S.
You can also leave a comment online at stpete.org/trop [stpete.org].