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Votes

Local developer among finalists to redevelop Tropicana Field

According to a May 1 vote, by the City of St. Petersburg, Fla. City Council, Arlington-based developer Archstone-Madison is one of two finalists to redevelop Tropicana Field.

The council voted 7-1 to authorize negotiations exclusively with Archstone-Madison and Hines Interests, a Houston-based real estate investment and development firm. The locally operated Archstone-Madison is a partnership of Archstone-Smith, a leading local apartment developer and Madison Marquette, a primarily retail/mixed-use development company.

Tropicana Field is a multi-purpose dome built by the city of St. Petersburg that opened in 1990, though the then-Devil Rays didn’t start playing until 1998. The Rays, who shortened their name in the past off-season, currently have an operating lease to play in the facility until 2027.

According to reports, the Rays are counting on money from the redevelopment of the 86-acre Tropicana Field site to cover a significant portion of the financing for a 34,000-seat stadium at the site of Progress Energy Park by 2012. The new stadium could cost $450 million.

According to the company’s proposal called EcoVerde, Archstone-Madison is pitching a $1.2 billion mixed-use development that would create 11,564 jobs and raise $11 million in property and sales taxes and other revenue annually. It wants a 98-year lease and would pay the city a minimum annual rent of $1 million rising over time to $2 million.

According to reports, the Rays say their financing plan will solve the remaining Tropicana Field debt, which in 2009 would stand at around $69-million. The price the developer pays for the land, however, is just one part of the Rays' financial equation.

According to published reports, Archstone-Madison current offer is $65 million, which means the Rays would still need an almost $400 million to construct the new stadium. The Rays have said publicly they will contribute $150 million, though the council recommended that the Rays provide their financial proposal by May 16.

Council members will engage in month-long discussions before choosing a winner on June 5, the same deadline that the Council has to decide whether to put a referendum on the November ballot asking the citizens whether or not to approve building the new park on the waterfront.

A local lobbying group, Preserve Our Wallets & Waterfront, has made a claim about soil contamination under the stadium, but the city has said countered that there is little proof and that it poses no harm to the public or the environment.