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What one prominent law firm’s decision says about the future of Tampa Bay Rays

By on November 26, 2013
johnson pope

Tucked inside this Tampa Bay Business Journal story about powerful law firm Johnson Pope’s decision to establish an office in downtown St. Petersburg with seven lawyers is this nugget about why the firm is establishing a beachhead in the ‘burg:

“The St. Petersburg office is part of Johnson Pope’s plan to be in the right place at the right time. (Managing partner Guy) Burns said it is inevitable that the Tampa Bay Rays will move, which would mean redevelopment in the dome area that ‘will take downtown to a new level,’ and he wants the firm to be ready to be part of the changes.”

Now read that paragraph again. Seven lawyers and an office is a million dollars a year in overhead, right? That means one of Pinellas County’s most influential law firms is basically making a multi-million dollar bet that the Tampa Bay Rays are leaving downtown St. Pete — and soon. 

What Johnson Pope’s decision also says is that downtown St. Pete will be just fine if and when the Rays depart. 

There is something like 850 apartments and condominiums currently under construction in downtown with a reported 1,000 more in the pipeline. None of those are being built because the Rays stadium is in close proximity. Rather people are moving into these residences to be close to Beach Drive and the waterfront and All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront and USF St. Petersburg, etc.

So let the Rays leave. The stadium land will quickly be sold-off and redeveloped. This will just make more room for more urban professionals and artists and students and breweries and galleries and restaurants to come to downtown St. Pete.

At least that’s what Johnson Pope’s decision says to me.

Photo via the Tampa Bay Business Journal.