New ideas for Tropicana Field, Ybor City

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The Tampa Bay Rays are counting on a $1.3 million plan to upgrade Tropicana Field and enhance the “fan experience” to bring more visitors to the St. Petersburg ballpark.

The Tampa Bay Rays are describing the makeover as providing “360-degree fan access,” enabling visitors to walk around the stadium and still watch the game without having to go into the concourse area.

Improvements involve creating walkways behind outfield seating and transforming the Batter’s Eye Restaurant into an open area meeting spot for fans to eat, drink and enjoy the games.

The team will pay for re-development of concessions in the updated restaurant area. Ticket fees and revenue from naming rights will pay for the capital improvements.

The money would come from a city-controlled escrow account for stadium improvements, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The Council is expected to vote on the project when it meets on Nov. 25.

Ybor improvements: Tampa officials are hoping that a hotel development and more apartments will help with revitalization efforts in Ybor City.

Tampa officials are seeking development proposals for two city-owned properties, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The hotel site would be on a city-owned block at Nick Nuccio Parkway and East 7th Avenue. A Broward County developer already has expressed interest in buying the property, which is now used for parking, and building a hotel.

The lot would be combined with an adjacent property owned by Volunteers of America that is for sale. The city would sell the land to the future developer of the properties.

City officials say they will be looking for designs that complement the historic architecture of the area.

The city also is seeking development proposals for an apartment complex to be built on city land near I-4 and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

New Year Layoffs: Up to 350 Sweetbay workers in the Tampa Bay area will be pink-slipped by Jan. 1, as the supermarket chain consolidates prior to its planned sale to Winn-Dixie’s parent company.

Affected workers are employed at the distribution center, trucking facility and headquarters, according to a layoff notice that Sweetbay Supermarkets filed with the state. Some employees may be able to re-locate, which may bring down the numbers.

Bi-Lo Holdings, Winn-Dixie’s parent company, is buying 72 Sweetbay stores from its Belgian-based owner, the Delhaize Group. The stores will be re-branded as Winn-Dixie.

Delhaize already has closed some under-performing Tampa Bay area stores, including a Sweetbay supermarket in St. Petesburg's midtown neighborhood. Walmart now plans to re-develop the site.

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