Reprinted without any permission or warning from this article, BY MARK PUENTE
– TIMES STAFF WRITER
As efforts ramp up to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in Pinellas County — and ward off a heavy challenge from
Hillsborough County — officials recently identified 10 possible locations for a new stadium.
A few were new industrial sites; others have been discussed before. To add to the 10, county commissioners
recently asked staffers to find more St. Petersburg sites. They have not made those additions to the list
public yet, but at least a few of them could be familiar, such as the Toytown landfill. Here’s a look at the 10
originals and a handful of potential others.
1. Airco Golf Course
128 acres, 13690 Stonybrook Drive, unincorporated
OWNER: St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport
PROS: Land has been idle since golf course closed in 2011. The county-owned property, valued at $7.4 million, could be cheaper and include more flexible terms than if it was privately owned. The midcounty site is closer to Tampa than St. Petersburg.
CONS: Would require major roadway upgrades to handle traffic. Would need expensive parking garages. Federal Aviation Administration expressed safety concerns in 2008 over the potential height of a stadium. Lacks interstate access.
2. Cheezem property
33 acres, southwest corner of 118th Avenue N and 49th Street N, Pinellas Park
OWNER: Cheezem family/Pinellas County (2 acres)
PROS: The land meets the Rays’ requirement of 20 acres.
CONS: It’s all wetlands. Not often mentioned as possible location. Doesn’t meet Rays criteria as having access to business center and room for neighboring retail. Even property owner Mike Cheezem said the wetlands would be an obstacle to getting building permits. “I personally think the Tropicana site is the best spot for a stadium,” said Cheezem, also president of JMC Communities in St. Petersburg. “The main thing is the Rays need to be successful. A smaller stadium is a part of that.”