Of Course the Rays Chose Ybor City for Their New Ballpark and Here’s Why

By Michael English, A.I.C.P.

Personally, I would be just as happy if the Rays built an exciting new stadium right next to the Trop, and celebrated the old and the new before demoing an obsolete building that feels and smells like a high school gym. But, they apparently really believe it is locational access and rooftops within a certain radius, and not the building, that is the source of their problems.

So why Ybor City? Well, as we now know, the organization looked at a number of locations, including three or four in the Ybor City/Channel District area. The south Ybor City location was the only one that has (so far) worked out.

Think about the impact of a downtown area Tampa baseball park! Imagine driving into town, looking out over downtown Tampa’s Channel District that already includes many cultural amenities, dramatic Port views, and new modern urban residences. You admire the city’s growing skyline and you now see a brand new, innovative and architecturally inspiring baseball stadium full of fans, surrounded by commercial, office and retail development, alongside the historic fabric of Ybor City’s heritage.

The proposed location, a 14-plus acre site on the southern edge of Ybor City, near the northern tip of downtown’s Channel District is located between East Fourth Avenue and Adamo Drive to the north and south and 15th Street and Channelside Drive to the east and west; an area awaiting redevelopment for years.

The debate for location has been an ongoing discussion for years. Should the Rays stay in St. Pete? Should they move to Tampa? Both areas have pros and cons, but the one thing that everyone agrees on is that the baseball team needs a new stadium if they are to stay relevant and prosper. Tropicana Field’s construction began in 1986 in an effort to lure a Major League Baseball (MLB) team to the area. The stadium, completed in 1990, was designed and built on a budget and  finally received a baseball team in1995; when MLB expanded to the Tampa Bay area. The existing stadium is now architecturally obsolete and will never attract the crowds needed to boost attendance.

I think the Rays do want to be in Ybor City. Their top criterion for a new stadium was better access to fans; and this site sits at the center of a densely populated region with easy connections to highly populated areas including Pinellas County, Brandon, Lakeland, and even Orlando. Ybor City seems to be the right choice. The area is in close proximity to downtown Tampa and access to fans by both surface and expressway roads and several existing transit systems. The Rays believe this location, with much better locational access and an exciting new stadium, will dramatically improve the historically low attendance rates at home games.

The proposed site is adjacent to the TECO Line Streetcar System (which is currently planning an expansion), right off the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and less than a mile from I-275. With Union Station close by, residents from Orlando could conceivably travel to the games by train. The revival of the Cross Bay Ferry experiment earlier this year is already in discussion, so attending a game by water may also be feasible.

As many fans of the Ray’s current stadium can attest, traffic issues often cause you to arrive late and make you want to leave early to avoid the road congestion. Getting into and out of the stadium is not terrible but also not easy. Additionally, even though Tropicana Field has a limited view of the water, it has no streetcars, limited restaurants, bars, and shops within walking distance—created in part by acres of surface parking. Historically, they are not attracting enough fans, only an average of 15,633 per game. The Rays finished last in MLB home attendance for the third consecutive season. Don’t misunderstand me, the Rays ownership and management are very talented and community-oriented and they’ve done a lot with limited resources. But, at the end of the day, the St. Pete ballpark lacks the sizzle required to attract enough fans, and is not in a prime location.

Today, successful ballparks and arenas are community hubs during the season, as well as in the offseason. Rays ownership and management certainly has that vision—a desire to be in the middle of a dynamic, year-round urban city center. Fans, patrons and locals get together before and after games for food and entertainment. Rooftop views, restaurants, retail, bars, and easier, efficient commutes, all attract and increase attendance. If the Rays want to be in Tampa’s urban center, Ybor City has everything they need and more….and a win/win for everyone!

A lot has been happening here at The Dikman Company! The team has been hard at work finding the best properties for our clients.

Earlier this month, Erika Matscherz was able to quickly secure office space in Downtown Tampa for Phoenix Marketing. This was such a pronounced success because the Rivergate Tower has struggled with vacancy over the past few years. Both Erika and the building owner worked together to coordinate the necessary alterations to the building, to ensure the best choice for the client.

Phoenix Marketing, a global marketing services firm headquartered in New York, has operated in Tampa for over thirty years, but a new location and work environment were needed to support their continued expansion. In just three months, a lease was signed and the office space was a match for what Phoenix was looking to find.

In mid-July, we co-brokered a seven-year lease with Centric Commercial/CORFAC International in the beautiful Sabal Industrial Park in Tampa. This property was leased to 50 Floor, one of the fastest growing residential carpet and flooring companies in the US. 50 Floor was eager to expand into the Tampa market, but their in-home shopping business model required a very unique warehouse and office space. We were able to provide our local market knowledge and find a building that met all of the client’s needs.

This brand-new building has a 21,900 square foot sister-building that is still available for lease. Check out for additional information on this property.

Erika also represented HEPACO as they signed an 18,859 square foot lease in Tampa. This 5-year lease was HEPACO’s first Tampa location. Even in this tight market, Erika was able to locate and secure a property near the Port of Tampa, which was very important to the client.

Location was key for HEPACO, a leader in emergency response and industrial services. To ensure the property would truly be operational for HEPACO, the Owner agreed to renovations which included new offices, bathrooms, as well as re-skinning the building. A December move-in date is expected.

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Racing Update

When I accepted the position of team Spotter for Alegra Motorsports last November, the team owner and two-time Rolex winner and friend, Carlos deQuesada, asked me to join them for 4 endurance races in the IMSA Weathertech Series. These races included: The Rolex 24, Sebring (12 hours), Watkins Glen (6 hours) and Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta (10 hours).

After Sebring, the plan changed when Alegra became the Porsche points leader after winning the Rolex 24 and competing well at Sebring.

Porche Motorsports persuaded Alegra, the storied Rolex 24 winner, to continue with the 12 Race Series. The team moved on to Long Beach, Circuit of Americas (COTA), Detroit and Watkins Glen.

Located at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen is one of the beautiful finger lakes located in the wine country of upstate New York. Racing has a rich 60-year history there that has included NASCAR, Formula 1 and IMSA. The region and track are absolutely beautiful. The track looks more like a state park and camping facilities are second to none. The atmosphere is very friendly and truly embraces die-hard race fans.

Team Alegra was ready for a grueling 6-hour race. Michael Christensen, Porsche factory driver, left the 24 Hours of LeMans to join us for his fourth race with the team. Daniel Morad and 17-year old Michael deQuesada joined Christensen for the quest for a win. Skillful driving, pit stops and spotting during six hours of incident-free racing unfortunately did not yield a winning result. IMSA’s attempt at balancing the performance (BOP) of various manufacturers’ race cars i.e. Porsche, Ferrari, Acura, Lexus, BMW, Lamborghini and Mercedes was not favorable for our Porsche GT3R. Christensen, one of the fastest race car drivers in the world, could not narrow the two-second lap deficit needed to win.

The quest for the win continues!

Tampa has risen as a vibrant, dynamic and beautiful city that is well-positioned to become the home to businesses of all sizes and types, due to the vast opportunities unfolding and the overall thriving economic environment. The City of Tampa is the largest city in Hillsborough County and is the third most populated city in Florida. Not only an economic hub, but Tampa also thrives in tourism, heath care, finance, technology and construction. 

The Tampa area outranked metros such as Dallas, Miami, Atlanta and Phoenix, as most affordable Top 20 U.S. metro cities. Tampa was also below the national average cost of living last year-so it doesn’t come as a surprise that population is on the rise.

Investing in neighborhood redevelopment has become increasingly important over the last few years in the Tampa Bay area. Currently there are eight community redevelopment areas, including: Central Park, the Channel District, Downtown, Drew Park, East Tampa, Tampa Heights Riverfront, West Tampa and Ybor City.  Each of these redevelopment areas is helping to make Tampa’s neighborhoods more attractive, safe, convenient, environmentally healthy and financially robust.

Michael English of The Dikman Company is fascinated at the evolution of urban planning, “With so many factors going into development, it is imperative to invest time in extensive research and use every resource at your disposal.” As a former city planner and anthropologist, Michael reviews comprehensive plans for The Dikman Company and evaluate properties for redevelopment. 

Michael has been in real estate for over thirty-five years, and remains optimistic with the growing Florida market and the effects of redevelopment. He is also impressed with the encouraging programs The City of Tampa has in place to promote redevelopment, as it creates more job opportunities in retail, service, office and manufacturing.



Racing Update:

As the lead spotter for Alegra Motorsports, 2017 started off with a big win, the Rolex 24. Winning the 24 Hours of Daytona with our 17-year old driver, Michael de Quesada, the youngest driver ever to win the Rolex 24, was one of the most exciting races ever for this seasoned spotter.   Michael’s dad, Carlos (celebrating his second win in 10 years), Jesse Lazare, Daniel Morad and Michael Christensen (Porsche factory driver) were all in attendance to celebrate this grand event. For the entire 29 minutes of the end of the 24 Hour race, Michael Christensen held the lead while I held my binoculars the entire time while communicating the position of the second and third place cars chasing him around the track.  Bringing him in for the win after a 3 wide push along the front stretch was exhilarating.  As Michael crossed the finish line, my fellow spotters, all standing, erupted in yells and applause.

Sebring followed with the addition of 3 additional spotters; Fred Beasley was atop a 40′ boom lift shared with the Chip Gnassi Ford guys at Turn 1, Bill Buff at Turn 3 atop our good friends motorhome; yours truly on the balcony of a Suite at theChateau Elan at Turn 7, the Safety Pin, and Manny atop the Porsche bleachers at Turn 17.  NO other team had 4 spotters. We were there for the win, but IMSA’s balance of performance (BOP) proved to be our downfall. No matter how hard Michael Christensen pushed the car, making it look like it was dancing on the track, he couldn’t keep up with the leaders.  BOP is meant to equalize the field, the Ferrari’s, Lambos, Porsches, BMW’s, Lexus’ and Acura’s, but unfortunately for this race it didn’t work. We finished 10th.

As the points leader for Porsche GTD class, Porsche Motorsports twisted team owner Carlos de Quesada’s arm and persuaded him to race the entire season which brought us to Long Beach, CA for the Long Beach Grand Prix. Michael Christensen, again was fast, flawless and easily leading the race when an errant pit stop under a short yellow gave us the penalty that pushed us back to finish 12th. Much fun was had in Long Beach and as the favored guest of Porsche Motorsports at their new Carson City Experience Center, Jens Walther, President, Porsche Motorsports North America rolled out the red carpet for us. 

At the May 6th COTA race (Circuit of the Americas-Austin, TX), our new on loan Porsche factory driver, young Mathieu Jaminet easily took the pole for GTD.  I enjoyed spotting from the amazing 251′ tower and enjoyed an aerobic benefit from the elevator being out of service as I ascended the 23 story tower 2-3 times a day. 

Halfway through the race, I assumed Mathieu would easily win this race with a 30 second lead in hand.  Once again, BOP beat us causing us to finish 7th 

Stay tuned our next race coming up in Detroit.

As a successful business owner, you have nurtured your business and experienced growth over the last few years. As a result, you’re quickly outgrowing your current space and it’s time to start considering options. You decide to buy land and build a space which can accommodate your growth, as well as future expansion. 

Your first step is to make a deal on a piece of land that is in the perfect location. Everything progresses well until you find out the land you purchased won’t be able to accommodate the warehouse you plan to build. In addition, there are some major environmental issues with the land that will prevent you from moving forward. Now you’re stuck with a piece of property you can’t use, and are behind on breaking ground on your larger space. 

This scenario happens more often than you think. The average commercial broker simply doesn’t have the training or experience to be able to see many of the red flags which can arise prior to purchase. Extensive research must be completed before a parcel can be deemed the right fit for any business prior to purchase. 

At The Dikman Company, we understand the importance of digging deep to research and understand the property our client is considering. That’s why we have experts on our team who thoroughly research every piece of land before we recommend it to our clients. Identifying these red flags early in the process is what we do best. Click on the video link to learn how the Dikman Company provides insight into why land use and zoning is a critical aspect of the due diligence process.   

Through this video you’ll learn: 

  • How Michael English and Erika Matscherz combine their respected expertise to ensure each client is matched with the right property. 
  • Why understanding various community regulations is vital to determining what can and cannot be done with a property. 
  • How our team prevents hidden surprises by ensuring complete research and discovery is done on every project we work on. 

As I wrap up another season of racing in Florida (getting TOO hot), I thought I’d share some of the highlights:

Race season started for me in Florida last November as the weather started to cool. After a couple of track events at the world-famous Sebring International Raceway, I traded my racing helmet for my Patrick Long Pro-Am Kart4Kids hat as Sponsor Chair for the event. The event was held the day after 12 Hours of Sebring in mid-March. The co-chairs and I headed for Daytona for the HSR Daytona Classics to “re-sign” former drivers, solicit new drivers, and coax famous pro drivers to autograph merchandise for our charity auction. We lucked out and re-signed Spencer Pumpelly, Andy Lally (eight-time Rolex 24 winner), the famous Taylor brothers, former F1 driver Sebastian Bourdais, Jan Heylen, and Katherine Legg, along with new drivers Eric Curran and Trent Hindman.

Below are pictures of Hurley Haywood and Dorsey Schrader signing wine glasses for our charity auction benefiting Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Following several more track events at Sebring in December and January, I headed to Daytona International Speedway to fulfill my job as a spotter for pro team, The Racer’s Group (TRG). As a spotter, my job is to stand on top of the roof of the Daytona International Speedway (pic below) and talk to the driver, crew, crew chief, and owner while listening to race control and helping the driver navigate traffic as well as assist with race strategy concerning pit stops and re-starts.

This year, the Aston Martin was to be anchored by F1 driver Sergio Perez, but his brother drove in his place. The all-Mexican team was sponsored by Tel-Mex, owned by billionaire Carlos Slim. Unfortunately, the 4:45 am driver did NOT heed the team owner’s warning NOT to go two-wide through the famous “bus stop” and consequently ended up low man on the totem pole and got punted out of the race.

The end of January into the beginning of February found me back at Sebring for a four-day event titled 48 Hours at Sebring presented by Champion Porsche as driver and more importantly as Sponsor Chair. We raise in excess of $25,000 each year for Ronald McDonald House as a “side” venture since this is NOT a charity event. With over 400 drivers in attendance, this is the largest Porsche club race in the world and the largest amount of equipment to assemble at Sebring.

Several more track events occurred before I once again attended the famous 12 Hours of Sebring, this year as a spotter for Konrad Motorsports’ two-car lineup with Lamborghinis. Unfortunately, one car caught fire during the morning practice which took it out of the race. Since Sebring does NOT have a spotter tower to spot from, our vantage point is typically on top of a motorhome or at the top of the Chateau Elan. For the first time in the event’s 64-year history, the race was halted for two hours and 15 minutes due to lightning. The race was restarted and our car did OK, but was hurt by IMSA’s bizarre “balance of power” rules for this race.

The next morning, I headed to Palmetto, Florida as Sponsor Chair to attend the Patrick Long Pro-Am Kart4Kids race. This event naturally featured the only Porsche American factory driver, Patrick Long. I’m pleased to report after wrapping up another successful event, we raised over $65,000 for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

In less than three weeks and after two years of construction, The Dikman Company will be completing the Loomis build-to-suit project. Upon completion, the building will include 32,340 sq. ft of office and warehouse space. The project is located in the Tampa East Industrial Park near Adamo Drive, US 301, Lee Roy Selmon toll road and I-75.  “This is one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels in Tampa East,” said Bob Dikman. “The Tampa East business park was initially developed by Elmer Krauss back in the 1970’s. The Dikman Company now controls almost all of the remaining undeveloped parcels in the park which is comprised of 200+ acres.” The build-to-suit for Loomis was included in the development of the waterfront parcel adjacent to The Dikman Company’s Mark 60 property.  The Dikman Company is also finalizing plans on a waterfront spec building in the same business park. The Dikman Company is also finalizing plans on a 26,100 sq. ft. tilt-wall, waterfront spec building in the same business park and hopes to break ground in the Fall of 2016. Leasing opportunities are available.

Weary Travelers Can Easily Find a Place to Put Their Feet Up:

LoungeBuddy 2016 Update

LoungeBuddy, founded by Bob Dikman’s son, Tyler Dikman, revolutionizes the airport experience by giving any traveler the ability to discover, book, and access premium airport lounges worldwide. Previously, lounge access was reserved only for elite frequent travelers. Now, with LoungeBuddy in hand, all travelers can instantly book guaranteed access to their very own airport oasis.

New Instant Booking Locations: 

  • Singapore (SIN) – The Green Market, Terminal 2
  • Cebu (CEB) – Plaza Premium Lounge, Int’l Terminal
  • Phnom Penh (PNH) – Plaza Premium Lounge, Int’l Terminal
  • Male (MLE) – Wellness Spa, Int’l Terminal
  • Salalah (SLL) – Plaza Premium Departure Lounge, Int’l Terminal
  • Shanghai (PVG) – No. 77 Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 2 Int’l

Learn more about LoungeBuddy here.

Over the last three to four years, the Tampa Bay area has seen a spike in both residential and commercial/industrial growth. Currently, there is less than six percent vacancy in Pinellas County for industrial properties. And, it is predicted that by 2018, the County will have less than one percent vacancy rate – almost NO vacant industrial space! Imagine that! So, where did this demand for industrial space come from? Since the recession ended, business owners are once again becoming more comfortable with making long-term lease investments. There is also a greater amount of new business opening in the area because Florida is such a low cost state. 

“Tampa has always been called ‘America’s next great city’, and now it is becoming THAT great city,” said Bob Dikman. “The Tampa Bay area has been discovered; we are getting more retirees, new businesses, and young professionals relocating here. There’s virtually no neighborhood or part of town in either Pinellas or Hillsborough County that you can drive through without seeing some sort of construction,” said Dikman. 

With such a demand for space, rental rates will go up significantly once capacity is nearly reached. In order to prepare for the rate hike, many of our clients are utilizing a strategy known as “blend and extend”. This strategy allows current tenants to extend their lease term and pay a blended rental rate that typically is lower than the current market rate. Utilizing “blend and extend” is beneficial to both the tenant and the landlord simply because in the long run both parties end up saving money. The landlord doesn’t have to deal with new tenant costs associated with bringing in a new tenant, such as marketing, tenant improvements, higher broker fees, etc., and the current tenant is compensated for previous years of possible inflated market lease rates by having a decreased rental rate. 

As 2018 quickly approaches, industrial tenants are entering the last stretch to lock in rates for the foreseeable future. “The area is on the cusp of a magnitude of rental rate increases like we have never seen before, and it is being driven up by demand and construction cost increases, since construction costs have recently skyrocketed,” stated Dikman.