The St. Petersburg City Council last week authorized negotiations to get under way with two developers that want to redevelop Tropicana Field, where the Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays now play.

The project is one component in the Rays’ plan to build a $450 million, 35,000-seat ballpark on the city’s downtown waterfront. Funding of the stadium is expected to involve the issuance of bonds. The Rays are expected to propose a financing plan by May 16.

The city sought proposals to gauge interest in redeveloping Tropicana Field, which is an essential element of the Rays overall plan to build a new ballpark

Of three proposals submitted, the city is now negotiating with Archstone-Madison of Arlington, Va.; a consortium of Tishman Speyer Real Estate Venture VII LP, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., and Capital Guidance Corp.; and Hines Interests LP of Atlanta, which has been working with the Rays on the overall project.

City staff will recommend the top proposal June 5.

However, the new stadium cannot be built on the city owned waterfront without the approval of voters in a referendum and various approvals from the Pinellas County Commission. The Rays want a referendum to be held in the November general election.

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