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Rays decline offer from Rick Kriseman; will continue to negotiate to look

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In the end, the only surprise to the rejection of the new offer by the St. Petersburg council by the Tampa Bay Rays was that it took an hour-long meeting to say no.

The Rays turned down the new deal, crafted by Councilman Jim Kennedy, although they did say they would continue to work toward a deal. Even Mayor Rick Kriseman had anticipated that the Rays would say no to the deal, which would have cost the team more than twice the original deal they had struck with the mayor.

Kriseman did not speak to reporters, but his spokesman, Ben Kirby, issued a statement.

“Mayor Kriseman is disappointed but not surprised that the Tampa Bay Rays are not in agreement with City Council’s proposal,” the statement said. “The mayor will continue to work with the leadership of the Tampa Bay Rays and our City Council to find common ground and resolve this issue. Mayor Kriseman is dedicated to keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the city of St. Petersburg in the long term.”

Brian Auld of the Rays also issued a statement.

“Although we appreciate the time and attention that Mayor Kriseman and the City Council have dedicated to this issue, we do not agree to this proposal,” Auld said in the statement. “We remain open to pursuing a cooperative path forward.”

The council would have preferred rather than rejecting their deal outright that the team make a counter-offer. However, the team has said in the past that it would not increase the offer it agreed to with Kriseman.

So where does that leave the Rays and the city? The team still wants the right to shop itself to Tampa, but evidently felt the price tag had risen too high. The team will wait for the upcoming elections, probably, and see where it stands on Kriseman’s deal – twice rejected by the council – then.

The sad conclusion: We are nowhere near the conclusion.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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