The top story in today's Tampa Tribune was the news that a meeting is scheduled Friday to hear a stadium proposal in St. Pete's Gateway/Carrilon area; which was, of course, reported earlier in the month by just about every media outlet in town.
Michael Sasso reports:
Can a St. Petersburg developer save the Rays for St. Pete? The public will get a chance to see what Darryl LeClair, who developed the Carillon business park, has up his sleeve on Friday.Continue reading here.
His proposed stadium to house the Tampa Bay Rays in Carillon faces long odds, with the biggest hurdle being how to pay for it. Not to mention that the Rays and Major League Baseball haven't let on whether they're even interested in his idea.
Still, some see his plan as St. Petersburg's last realistic effort to keep the hometown team. He will unfurl it at 1:30 p.m. Friday at a special St. Petersburg City Council meeting at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive.
"If St. Pete wants to keep them, this seems like the only viable plan to keep them in St. Pete," said David Heavenridge, who co-owns the Courtside Grille near the proposed ballpark site.
LeClair is a former real estate executive with Florida Power Corp., who made his name developing the Carillon business park along Ulmerton Road. He has a knack for jumping into public debates, previously developing a plan on his own dime to redevelop The Pier in downtown St. Petersburg. The city chose another group's design but praised him for trying.
Now he's entering the stadium debate. The president of one of his companies, CityScape LLC, wrote to St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster last month asking to present CityScape's ballpark proposal. What he's up to has been a well-guarded secret.
His letter to the mayor doesn't give details about his ballpark plan, city leaders profess to know nothing about it, and no one from LeClair's St. Petersburg office returned a reporter's calls last week.
What is known is that he controls about 12 undeveloped acres in Carillon business park, just south of Publix supermarket. That isn't much property for a professional sports stadium. Tropicana Field and its surrounding parking sit on about 86 acres.
But it might be enough to get by.
The Minnesota Twins, for example, opened their new stadium, Target Field, on 12 acres in downtown Minneapolis in 2010, said Dan Kenney, executive director of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.
The real test might be how to scrape together parking for a stadium that could seat up to 40,000 people. Accommodating them could require about 13,700 parking spots, according to a study by the ABC Coalition, a St. Petersburg-sponsored group that studied the need for a new stadium.