Rays announce deal for new ballpark in St. Petersburg – what’s next?

St. Petersburg is celebrating the momentous announcement about the Tropicana Field site’s future plans.

Now that the plans have been revealed, the question is what will happen next.

There’s a lot more in store for taxpayers, as well as a lot of money on the line for city leaders.

The $1.3 million pavilion-style covered stadium is part of the $6.5 billion, 20-year restoration of the 86-acre Historic Gas Plant District managed by the global Hines Company.

The stadium is expected to open in time for the 2028 season.

St. Petersburg and Pinellas County would be on the line for roughly $500 million to build the new ballpark, and any additional taxes have been difficult to sell in recent years.

Despite this, it appears that the city, county, and Rays are confident that the funding proposal for the new ballpark will be approved.

It must be approved by the St. Pete City Council and the county commission. And there appears to be a lot of optimism that those votes will be cast.

Rays supporters have been divided, with some supporting the new stadium and others doubting the idea to build a new park.

“We’re pumped,” said Rays fan Ryan Howard.

“I’m so glad they’re staying in St. Pete. Everything worked out, I think, to the fan base. It’s great for St. Pete. It’s great for the Rays. It’s a huge win. Huge win all around.”

Criticism stems from promises made to the community decades ago when the Gas Plant neighborhood was razed to make way for what became Tropicana Field.

“If you go back 40 years, a similar thing was done where residents were promised housing, businesses and many other opportunities,” said Rev. Dr. Manuel Sykes, Pastor at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

“Our mayor says our promises are going to be kept. I contend that the lie that was told 40 years ago is a lie today.”

If the city and county give the ballpark the green light, construction could break ground by as early as this time next year.

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