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.