31 December 2008

Rays open ballpark site search

The AL champion Tampa Rays, in conjunction with a coalition called "A Baseball Community," released a two-part study (PDF: Part I/Part II) on seven possible future ballpark sites. The sites, all within St. Petersburg city limits, range from the downtown waterfront site upon which the Rays had previously planned a new ballpark to a 250-acre inactive landfill curiously named "Toytown." A map is available showing all seven sites:
  • Tropicana Field - The sacrificial lamb, development of the current ballpark site has been offered up as a way to help pay for a new ballpark at Al Lang Field. A new concept has a ballpark co-existing with planned surrounding mixed-use development.
  • Al Lang Field/Progress Energy Park - Concept rushed through during the spring, then quickly abandoned. Surprisingly, this site has the smallest population within a 30-minute drive of itself, only 539,312. That's less than the combined population of Oakland-Berkeley-Alameda. Or Fresno-Clovis. And that doesn't even include all of the communities within 30 minutes.
  • Derby Lane - An old dog track and kennel. Biggest issue is that it's furthest removed from I-275, though it is close to Tampa by virtue of another bridge spanning Tampa Bay.
  • Airco Golf Course - Has already been discounted due to its proximity to the St. Pete-Clearwater airport.
  • Sod Farm - Developer Tarpon Ridge bought the site from the City in hopes of building a massive mixed-use development. The land remains undeveloped and could project to have the highest infrastructure costs.
  • Carillon Town Center - May be in the best position right now. It also is part of a large-scale development plan but already has infrastructure in place. It's right off I-275 and is at the western approach to the Howard Franklin bridge, which means it's the closest to Tampa. The built-out nature of the complex provides fewer opportunities for ancillary development.
  • Toytown - Landfill ceased activity in 1983 and closed completely in 1991. Leachate seeped into the water table in the mid-80's, this was controlled shortly thereafter. This site, just south of Carillon along I-275, appears to have the greatest amount of potential. Part of this is due to the incredibly low land cost: $10 million for 250 acres. However, anyone who buys it will be responsible for the massive remediation cost that will be required before a single pile can be driven. Hunters Point or O29, anyone?
The report is worth the read and could be considered an executive summary-type synopsis of what we normally see in California in our EIR/EIS documents.

Population is the real eyebrow-raiser here. The Carillon site has twice the in-radius population as Al Lang. Still, at 1.2 million, there remains a question of sustainability in the market. To put that in perspective, even that total is less than the population of Alameda County (1.45 million) and further less than Santa Clara County (1.7 million). Going with a smaller, cheaper ballpark regardless of site is a good move there.


Jeffrey said...

I never realized how "isolated" the Trop is. What a strange place to put a stadium, though I am probably missing something.

It seems to be surrounded by water with no easy way for the landlocked Tampa fans to get there. It'd be like building a stadium in Inverness or something. Is it really that isolated?

Roderick said...

Not exactly isolated, since it's serviced by I-275 and other thoroughfares in the area. St. Pete itself, while it could be considered small and is certainly smaller than Tampa, struck me as a relatively densely-built, decent-sized city, when compared to Tampa and other Florida cities. Traffic there also didn't seem as bad as in the Bay Area and SoCal.

Transic said...

I just something interesting regarding the St. Pete ballpark site search. The executive director of TBARTA gave his opinion at the latest ABC coalition meeting concerning the sites in question: