The Rays have already conducted research showing approximately 12,000 parking spaces within a 10-15 minute walk of the new ballpark site. Other transportation assets of the downtown waterfront location include the approximate 5,000 parking spaces at the redevelopment of Tropicana Field and the significant capacity remaining on I-175 and I-375.
Over the next several months, RK&K will work with the City of St. Petersburg, its residents and the Rays to analyze the relationship between existing parking locations and ballpark entry and exit routes, forecast downtown traffic volumes during event conditions, and engage the community to determine specific areas of concern. RK&K will recommend methods to ensure that adequate parking will be available for both the ballpark and its downtown environs. RR&K will also help create an effective traffic management plan to minimize congestion and provide ease of entry and exit to the ballpark.
"Ensuring convenient access and adequate parking for the ballpark is critical to the success of downtown St. Petersburg and the Rays," said Rays senior vice president Michael Kalt. "After conducting a search of local and national firms, we selected RK&K not only for its extensive experience in developing successful transportation and parking management plans, but also because of its ability to incorporate community input throughout the planning process."
"RK&K is very excited to engage the community and identify parking and traffic solutions for the Rays waterfront ballpark," said David Wallace, partner-in-charge for RK&K. "While there will no doubt be challenges, our experience has convinced us that locating ballparks in urban settings with decentralized parking locations can bring activity, opportunity, and quality of life enhancements to America's downtowns. We look forward to doing our part in helping to achieve those same results in St. Petersburg."
RK&K is a consulting engineering firm based in the Mid-Atlantic with highly specialized expertise in parking and transportation planning for ballparks, arenas and other sports venues and special event facilities. RK&K has overseen parking and transportation analysis on over 20 major event facilities in the past two decades, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and Beaver Stadium. Most recently, RK&K contributed to the Washington Nationals Stadium relocation study, which included analysis of a comprehensive multi-modal transportation access and parking study for the construction of a new 41,000-seat MLB ballpark with limited on-site parking.
For the analysis of the Rays' waterfront ballpark, RK&K has partnered with two local firms, Bayside Engineering and Adam's Traffic. Both firms are certified as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises with the Florida Department of Transportation.
RK&K is expected to begin data gathering and field survey work immediately, with preliminary recommendations to be presented to the City and local stakeholders this spring. Interested citizens can visit www.majorleaguedowntown.com for more information on the Rays' plans for a waterfront ballpark and the redevelopment of Tropicana Field.
While the 35,000-seat stadium in mind is open-air, the plan calls for the stadium to have the option to be covered with a sail-like material on a cabling system in the event of inclimate weather.
Under this plan, long-time fans attending games at Al Lang would need to get used to having the playing field face a different direction to facilitate a field that would allow home run balls hit to right field to land in the water, which would be akin to what AT&T Park in San Francisco allows.
Bill Chastain This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.