Darryl LeClair laid out an intriguing new-ballpark strategy for the Tampa Bay Rays at the St. Pete Carillon Park, with office buildings and apartments forming the ballpark's exterior.
It's a bold attempt to lay out a new ballpark on an extremely small footprint -- 12 acres or so -- with a very limited amount of parking in the area. Basically, HKS and Hunt Contruction are proposing a mixed-used ballpark: the outer walls of other buildings in the complex would serve as the boundaries of the ballpark. A retractable or fixed roof would be integrated into the ballpark design.
The air conditioned stadium would seat 35,000, either with a retractable roof or a fixed window pane roof, fashioned from the tough, light plastic that covered Beijing's Water Cube during the 2008 Olympics.
A transparent rear wall would afford views of Tampa Bay by day and into the lit-up field from Ulmerton Road by night.
Seats would rise steeply, so lower, middle and upper decks would all be close to the field. Concourses and concessions would remain open to the action.
All in all, 1.6 million square feet of development would support the ballpark.
The cost of the ballpark would be $540 million to $570 million. Where the money would come from is an issue. The Rays have already offered $150 million, and a sales tax used to build the Tropicana Dome, which expires on 2016, could also be used, resulting in another $250 million. LeClair made no offers about financing the rest of the facility, and no one from St. Petersburg or Pinellas County has stepped up with any ideas, either. St. Pete is in a delicate spot: on the one hand, Mayor Bill Foster has repeatedly said he wants to keep the Rays at the Trop through the 2027 lease agreement date, but bonds on the Trop are set to be paid off in 2016. The Rays haven't commented, yet, either.
Images courtesy CityScape.
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