Where Have All the Mangoes Gone?

Reactivating the Tropicana Field Site

By Sarah Jane Vatelot

In 1986, Tropicana Field was commissioned without a prospective tenant or any interest from a major league baseball team, and failed to attract a baseball tenant until eight years after its completion in 1990. As an emerging architect, Sarah-Jane L. Vatelot found herself asking, “What was the rush to build a taxpayer-subsidized $138,000,000 baseball stadium in this location?” What she came to understand is that the real story is not about baseball, it’s about people. In the Fall of 2018, she embarked upon an eight-month-long study of the site for my master’s thesis at the USF School of Architecture and Community Design, identifying the issues posed by the site’s historical context to propose policy suggestions and design solutions to mend the tear in the physical and social fabric of St. Petersburg left by the 86-acre site.

That journey led to this beautiful work of non fiction documenting the story behind the construction of the stadium and the destruction of several neighborhoods that comprised the heart of the African American community is St. Petersburg. Sarah-Jane L. Vatelot retells the often forgotten story of how the stadium and the construction of the I 275 highway changed the fabric of downtown St. Petersburg and documents her proposal for recovering community, connective-ness and solidarity in the ‘burg.


Meet the Author

Sarah Jane Vatelot

Author & Architectural Associate

Sarah-Jane has been working in the field of architecture since 2007 and currently works as an Architectural Designer at Behar Peteranecz Architecture in the Warehouse Arts District. She has a passion for architecture and its ability to participate in and positively affect social change. Sarah-Jane has called St Pete home since 1997 and looks forward to playing a role in St Pete’s urban growth and development. She received her Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Florida in 2007 and her Master’s in Architecture from the University of South Florida’s School of Architecture and Community Design in 2019.  

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