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City Plans To Replace Tropicana Field Could Come At The Cost Of Damaging Black Neighborhood

Once a vibrant Black neighborhood, the Gas Plant District in St. Petersburg, Florida now lies beneath the Tropicana Field stadium and parking lots. Promises of revitalization made in the 1970s were shattered when the city opted for a baseball stadium instead. Over 280 buildings were demolished, displacing over 500 families and obliterating Black cemeteries by 1986.

Last September, city officials announced a plan to sell the 86 acres that once made up the neighborhood to developers, part of a preliminary deal to build a new stadium to replace the aging and inadequate Tropicana Field. With taxpayers footing half the bill, the proposed $1.3 billion stadium replacement plan further neglects the community's needs. 

Critics argue that the plan, including only 10% affordable housing, fails to rectify past injustices and will harm Black residents. Organizations like Faith in Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Community Justice Project advocate for mixed-income housing, Black- and Brown-owned businesses, and environmental protection. Residents like Alexa Manning, nostalgic for the tight-knit community of their childhood, see the new plan as another push for displacement. 

"They started pushing us out then, and I think they haven't stopped pushing us out yet," says Alexa Manning, 

Bishop Manuel Sykes condemns it as unethical, offering mere "crumbs" to a community stripped of its generational wealth. As the city moves forward with its development agenda, community voices unite against what they see as a continuation of historical discrimination and displacement, emphasizing the urgent need for genuine racial and economic justice.

"We have a housing crisis for workforce and middle- to low-income people, and yet they are building luxury apartments and condos at a rate that's leaving some of them empty," Sykes said. "How do you justify creating that glut of housing for the affluent and ignore the population that lived in that place and simply act as though their voices don't matter? This is about the destruction and displacement of African American communities everywhere."

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Link: SPL Center 


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