St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has issued a memorandum written to the City Council, the Pinellas County Commission and Stuart Sternberg, the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, which says, in a nutshell, that the city will fight any attempt by the Rays to look beyond the city limits for a new stadium location.
“I do agree that the Rays are a “regional asset,” and will work tirelessly with the political and business leaders of Tampa Bay in support of this club. However, there is no resident of the entire region who has given up more in this quest for baseball than the resident of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. The taxpaying residents of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Major League Baseball and the Rays, and above all else, their interests will always come first.
Earlier this week, Mr. Sternberg issues a statement, “the Rays will not be playing in Tropicana Field when our current lease expires in the year 2027″ and in the spirit of full cooperation with one of our most prominent business partners, the City of St. Petersburg is ready, willing and able to explore future facility sites located in St. Peterburg, including sits in the area commonly referred to as The Greater Gateway.” To begin a time line for construction prior to 2027, an amendment to our existing agreement would be required. I intend to convey to Mr. Sternberg our willingness to engage the Rays in this discussion immediately, in spite of the fact that seventeen years remain on the existing agreement.
Let me be clear – we will consider any potential ballpark site in St. Petersburg and the Gateway, but only as part of a process that recognizes and rewards the previous and ongoing investment and commitment of the St. Petersburg and Pinellas County resident, and thus, no sites outside our geographic boundaries will be considered. This is consistent with every previous statement made by this administration, both publicly and behind closed doors with Rays’ management.
We look forward to ongoing dialogue with the Rays…”