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Charlie Gerdes withdraws plea to Pinellas County Commission about stadium dollars

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes asked that his request to amend a resolution sent to the Pinellas County Commission be withdrawn.

Gerdes had planned on asking commissioners to refrain from allocating the portion of bed tax dollars formerly used on Tropicana Field debt service until a decision is made regarding the Tampa Bay Rays future in Pinellas County.

There’s about $6.5 million a year that could be used to help fund a new stadium should the Rays choose to stay in St. Pete or Pinellas County.

Gerdes decided the resolution was no longer necessary because county commissioners have already came to the same conclusion.

At issue is a potential $662 million sports facility to house Spring Training for the Atlanta Braves at the Toytown site that formerly served as a landfill.

Earlier this week, the Pinellas County Commission tabled a conversation about using a portion of the county’s bed tax for that facility because they didn’t know whether St. Pete would reach an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays to allow the team to explore alternative stadium sites outside the city.

There’s simply not enough tourist development dollars to back both.

“They recognize that that money is important and it’s going to be fought over,” Gerdes said.

The City Council chair is in the midst of preparing a new agreement for council to vote on later this month he thinks will gain support among council members. It would include a $1.4 million to $1.5 million search fee, something the previous deal brokered by Mayor Rick Kriseman lacked, and would include some $12 million in state bonds that would be paid off if the Rays broke their lease at Tropicana Field.

That lease runs through 2027.

Under Gerdes’ plan, the City Council would pre-approve a plan and then send it off to the Rays to sign off on.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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