Rays stadium issue divides David Jolly and Alex Sink

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It’s likely the successor in Congress to the late Bill Young, be it Republican David Jolly or Democrat Alex Sink, will have little influence on where or when a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays will be built.  

Yet, Jolly and Sink’s thoughts on the Stadium Saga are telling indications of the differences between the two candidates. Jolly is a fierce defender of Pinellas’ interests, while Sink is a regionalist for regionalism’s sake.

In an interview with 10 News’ Preston Rudie, Jolly and Sink were both asked where they think a new stadium should be built. Jolly’s answer is decisive, while Sink’s response is, well, as scrambled as this morning’s eggs.

“Anywhere in Pinellas County,” Jolly said when asked where a new stadium should be located. “We need to keep the Rays here.”

Jolly went on to draw a direct line from the Stadium Saga to the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“I joked recently that Tampa … took our post office,” said Jolly. “(T)hey’re trying to take our congressional seat. They’re trying to take our baseball team. Next they’ll be trying to take our beaches.”

Jolly’s quip about Tampa trying to take a congressional seat is a not-so-subtle dig at longtime Hillsborough resident Sink, who, for her part, wants the Rays to remain in Tampa Bay, but sounds open to them across the bay.

“It should be located somewhere where the team can be successful because it’s such an important regional asset and I would hate to see the team leave the Tampa Bay region,” said Sink.

In her interview with Rudie, the former Chief Financial Officer is adamant that “the people of St. Petersburg, who are financially on the hook get paid … they can’t be exposed to payments they’ve got to get paid off by the Rays.”

But once those bonds are paid off?

“Let’s figure out where to put it so we that we can keep the team in the area,” said Sink.

And does that mean the Rays should look at Hillsborough County?

“Well if I were, if I’m not in charge of it and I won’t have any influence over it, but, it seems to me that’s the direction.”

For Pinellas’ sake, let’s hope Sink is wrong.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.