Rays Ballpark
Rays Ballpark was the name used in project documents for a ballpark in the current location of Progress Energy Park on the Tampa Bay waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, proposed by the Tampa Bay Rays as a replacement for Tropicana Field. The Rays had hoped to complete the park in time for the 2012 season. The proposal did not garner enough public support, and the project was abandoned. A task force was subsequently created to look for alternate sites in and around St. Petersburg.

Design
The Tampa Bay Rays have been working with Populous (formerly HOK Sport) on a design for a possible future ballpark since at least the beginning of 2007. The main design point of the proposed stadium was the "Mast and Arch" retractable roof design. Instead of a solid material sliding roof panel, the "roof" would have been a fabric covering stored inside the shade to the seating. It was to be deployed by a pulley system at the top of the mast in 6”“8 minutes. The concourses in the proposed ballpark were similar to those at PNC Park, whereas they would have been enclosed, but fronted with glass on the field side, allowing fans waiting for concessions to view the game's progress. As part of the new stadium, Bayshore Drive, which currently runs along the east side of Progress Energy Park, was to be closed during gameday activities, and become part of the ballpark. The ballpark would have faced the opposite direction that Progress Energy Park does, so home runs could be hit into the water, similar to AT&T Park in San Francisco and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. This would have mitigated some issues involving heat, as a majority of the seats would be shaded from the sun during day games. The open access to Tampa Bay from right field would also have provided a cooling effect. The original designs for the stadium called for up to 2.55 acres (10,300 m 2) of Tampa Bay to be filled in. By the time the stadium proposal was first made public, the landfill was reduced to 1.05 acres (4,200 m 2). In May 2008, the team revealed a new design calling for moving Bayshore Drive to a bridge structure, reducing the landfill requirement to 0.4 acres (1,600 m 2). The plan website mentions that the simple act of moving from a dome to an open-air stadium could reduce the team's carbon footprint by up to 70%. However, the ABC group analyzing stadium needs for the Rays have said that any new stadium must have a fully retractable roof.

Proposal
The design of the ballpark, as well as the redevelopment plan for Tropicana Field, was released on November 28, 2007. On March 11, 2008, the Rays continued to move forward with plans for a downtown stadium by submitting a preliminary design consideration document to St. Petersburg officials. In addition, the organization announced that a detailed transportation and parking study had concluded that the Al Lang site in downtown St. Petersburg is well suited for the Rays' proposed waterfront ballpark. Nearly 14,000 parking spaces that may be available for the majority of ballpark events were identified, a figure that does not include roughly 7,000 on-street parking spaces. Some of downtown's largest institutions have expressed an interest in working with the Rays to provide parking for ballpark patrons, including All Children's Hospital, Bayfront Medical Center, and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Financing
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was to contribute as much as $150 million or one third of the cost. The team had also planned to seek Florida's 30-year, $60 million sales tax rebate for new sports venues. They also planned to fund the new park through the sale of redevelopment rights to Tropicana Field and the new property taxes generated from that redevelopment were projected to generate $800 million in new revenue. However, on January 7, 2008, the Rays announced they would be "temporarily abandoning" plans for seeking the subsidy. Using public funds in Florida to build a stadium may have proved to be too difficult; the Florida Marlins failed several times to get the sales tax rebate in their efforts to build the Miami Ballpark, and the state government anticipated heavy shortfalls in fiscal year 2009. Gov. Charlie Crist had announced that he would be interested in doing whatever he could to help the project reach fruition. Because the land Al Lang Field sits on is city property, city voters would have to approve a new use for the land, a referendum that was expected to be on the November 2008 ballot. Then, to allow the city to forgo paying property taxes on the site (a loophole in Florida laws allows county governments to own stadiums tax-free), a long-term lease would have been signed by the Rays and Pinellas County would then take control of the site, a similar arrangement to that of Tropicana Field. Rays ownership revealed the financing plan on 2008-05-16. Under this plan, in addition to the $150 million Stuart Sternberg was to provide, at least $70 million would have come from the sale of Tropicana Field. $100 million would have come from an extension of the one cent on the Pinellas County tourist development tax that was approved for Tropicana Field, which was to be extended 25 to 30 years. $75 million was to be redirected from the money the city of St. Petersburg currently pays on the debt owed for construction of Tropicana Field, with those payments extended 25 to 30 years; the debt on Tropicana Field would be assumed by the redevelopers, taking that burden off the city. The remaining $55 million would be from parking fee revenues, and guaranteed by Sternberg. Sternberg would pay any cost overruns.

Work on approval
The first official public hearing on the park was held on February 22, 2008, before the St. Petersburg City Council. By that time, groups opposing and supporting the new stadium had already formed. Proposals for the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site were submitted to the City of St. Petersburg on March 18. Negotiations with Hines Construction and Archstone-Madison were begun for the redevelopment of Tropicana Field on May 1. On June 13, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker recommended that City Council accept the redevelopment bid made by Archstone-Madison, which offered $65 million for Tropicana Field. Their redevelopment plan involves building 755 condominiums, 1,935 apartment units, at least 600 hotel rooms, 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m 2). of office space, and 1,126,000 sq ft (104,600 m 2). of retail space. If approved by City Council and had the new stadium proposal passed, it would have been built in three phases, and completed in 10”“13 years. The first major hurdle for approval took place on June 5, when the St. Petersburg City Council voted 7”“1 in favor of directing the City Attorney to draw up language for an approval referendum for the November 4, 2008, ballot.

Cancellation
City and county leaders criticized the referendum plan as being "rushed." On June 25, 2008, in the face of mounting opposition, the Rays abandoned their attempts to get on the November ballot and postponed the project indefinitely. On May 22, 2009, the team announced that they had abandoned all plans for a ballpark on the St. Petersburg waterfront, preferring a location nearer the center of Pinellas County. The team also announced that a "community-based coalition," headed by Progress Energy President Jeff Lyash, will be evaluating alternate sites for the new ballpark in addition to the waterfront, and will be studying the team's fan base and corporate support. There is no publicly-released timetable for proceeding with stadium plans. Derby Lane greyhound racing track and Toytown, a former landfill, are among seven suggested sites for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark. According to the St. Petersburg Times, there are environmental hazards at the Toytown landfill. Among the possibilities is a 15-acre (61,000 m 2) site in the Carillon area. The Carillon location also has twice as many people within a 30-minute drive than either downtown St. Petersburg site, according to an internal report released by the Rays. Carillon has been suggested as the best location from a transit perspective. Carillon Town Center would provide excellent potential for shared parking with adjacent development and excellent connectivity to the I-275 interstate corridor. This site would also seem to have a very high potential for a rapid transit connection. It appears that from a transportation and parking perspective, this site could potentially accommodate the majority of potential events at a new ballpark. St. Petersburg City Attorney John Wolfe has stated that the city, which has a lease agreement with the Rays through 2027, "would only approve a stadium project within the city of St. Petersburg."

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