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County commissioners want Rays to know: ‘We want you to stay in Pinellas’

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The news that Tampa Bay Rays officials have discussed nine potential sites for a new ballfield with Tampa and Hillsborough officials was not welcome information among Pinellas commissioners.

It’s time, they said, to make sure the Rays know the county wants them to stay whether it’s in St. Petersburg or elsewhere in Pinellas.

It’s time to talk about other sites in Pinellas, Commissioner Ken Welch said Thursday.

“Those conversations need to be happening now,” he said.

They appointed Welch to represent them on Baseball Forever, a campaign designed to convince the Rays that their current location at Tropicana Field is the best location in Tampa Bay for Major League Baseball. That would involve re-visioning and redeveloping the property. And commissioners agreed County Administrator Mark Woodard and commission chair Charlie Justice should reach out to the Rays.

They discussed inviting Rays officials to make a presentation to them about the team’s wishes. Commissioner Dave Eggers liked that idea: “I think the symbolism is important here to show how much the Rays mean to Pinellas County.”

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