Airport member: Ballpark could cause problems

12/14/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night WMNF reported on a possible ballot measure that would ask that no public monies be allocated in the creation of the proposed downtown waterfront ballpark in St. Petersburg.

There are numerous questions about the proposed stadium, including environmental concerns, specifically about the part of the plan that calls for using dirt to fill in about a half-acre in Tampa Bay, in part to reroute Bayshore Drive around the stadium.

Environmentalists say the plan could threaten several notable seagrass beds and concrete domes that serve as habitat for oysters and other marine life.

The roof of the park, which is to consist of a fabric pulled along cables and suspended between arches on one end and a central mast structure on the other, could also be problematic.

Jack Tunstill is chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee at Albert Whitted Airport as well as the representative for the Aircraft Owners Pilots Association Support Network. He says the mast might be considered an obstruction by the Federal Aviation Authority.

Tunstill says another concern is a restriction on flight operations during ballgames. Such a restriction is in effect on Sunday afternoons in the vicinity of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa when the Bucaneers play.

The Rays have said that no local taxpayers money will be spent on the park. But Tunstill doesn’t believe that.

WMNF plans on speaking with officials of the Tampa Bay Rays officials in the new year to get their perspective on the proposed park.

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