Tampa Bay Rays debut $1.3B stadium deal
- The Tampa Bay Rays plan to build a $1.3 billion stadium at their current Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg, Florida, the team said Tuesday.
- The Major League Baseball franchise agreed with the city of St. Petersburg and surrounding Pinellas County for the team to shoulder over half the cost of the new build, with the two municipalities contributing approximately $300 million each. The team will also be responsible for any cost overruns.
- Construction is expected to begin in late 2024 on the first of two phases. The Rays will continue to play in the existing ballpark on the site until 2027, according to the release. Phase 1 of the development and the new ballpark are projected to be ready by Opening Day 2028.
Building professional sports venues is big business for leading contractors.
A Gilbane-Turner JV is building a stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, with cost estimates now as high as $1.7 billion, a sizable increase from the original $1.4 billion projection.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans are planning a $2.1 billion stadium in Nashville, as the Jacksonville Jaguars embark on the initial stages of a $1 billion renovation at the team’s stadium in Florida. The franchise has tapped St. Louis-based HOK for the design and Indianapolis-based AECOM Hunt and Southfield, Michigan-based Barton Malow as preconstruction manager.
At the same time, MLB’s Oakland Athletics have proposed a $1.5 billion stadium in Las Vegas pending the team’s move to Nevada, which still needs to be approved by the league, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And in Milwaukee, legislators have floated the idea of spending $614 million in public funds to renovate the Brewers’ stadium there.
While stadium projects that combine private and public money have become increasingly common, they also pose challenges for contractors. For example, Providence, Rhode Island-based Gilbane and New York-based Turner, the JV building the Bills stadium, took heat when initial workforce participation goals for minorities and women fell short, according to a review by the state of New York.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ new proposed stadium, which would be part of a larger, $6.5 billion development in St. Petersburg’s Historic Gas Plant district, also has diversity and inclusion goals. As much as $50 million is earmarked for affordable housing funding, employment and business support, education programs and minority- and women-owned business enterprise hiring commitments.
But like the A’s venue in Las Vegas, the Rays stadium isn’t a done deal. A timeline on the city’s website said the agreement still needs final approval from the St. Petersburg City Council and the Pinellas County Commission. That approval process is slated to begin this fall.