Editor’s note: The following is cross-posted from Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog.
Speaking from America’s oldest ballpark, Rays owner Stu Sternberg told reporters at Fenway Park Tuesday that he anticipated progress on the team’s longstanding stadium stalemate.
“The details I’m certainly not going to speak about, but it is no secret that (St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster) and I have had a number of conversations over a lengthy period of time,” Sternberg was quoted as saying in the Tampa Bay Times. “I would like to believe that that’s going to bear some fruit and allow us the opportunity to put this franchise on great footing for generations to come.”
This isn’t huge news since Sternberg said in June that he “felt better” about his relationship with Foster, but kudos to the Times for uncovering this nugget:
City Council Chairman Karl Nurse said city and team lawyers “have been trying to draft an agreement” for months that would allow the Rays to look at potential stadium sites in Tampa, as well as St. Petersburg.
An agreement would define ground rules for the search and reinforce the team’s current obligation to play at Tropicana Field through 2027, Nurse said. The Rays also would have to thoroughly examine a proposed stadium in St. Petersburg’s Carillon Business Park before looking in Tampa, he said.
The city would be protected, Nurse said, because neither side could break the team’s current contract to play at Tropicana Field “unless both sides agree.” He said he didn’t know any other details.
If council finds an acceptable compromise, it won’t matter what the mayor thinks. But it’s also worth mentioning Nurse has supported a compromise that would allow the Rays to look in Hillsborough County before, and council failed to support the motion.
Nurse also told the Times that Foster, who is faces a tough re-election fight on Aug. 27, shares blame with the city’s attorneys, who have expressed concern over diminishing the city’s legal leverage.
Sternberg said he was hopeful for a breakthrough and, with regards to Tampa possibilities, the Rays “want to see what’s out there.”
Meanwhile, go buy tickets for next week’s mini-homestand at The Trop: the Wild Card-leading Rays are hosting the Diamondbacks and the World Series Champion Giants. Kids’ tickets to the team’s Wednesday night game are even marked down to two bucks.