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Rick Kriseman tells Jack Latvala his focus will remain on keeping the Rays in St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Rick Kriseman responded formally on Tuesday to Jack Latvala’s admonishment that he’s being too parochial in forming a committee to try to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Pete.

The St. Petersburg Mayor says his job is keep large employers and good corporate citizens like the Rays in his city, and that’s what he’s going to continue to do.

“I am proud of the agreement we reached and proud of our City Council for understanding that not allowing the Rays to explore area sites may have led the team to leave our region altogether following the 2027 season,” Kriseman wrote to the Clearwater state Senator. “But allowing the Rays to explore future stadium sites outside St. Petersburg’s city limits should not be taken as a sign of our willingness to cede the team to another municipality or county.”

On Monday, Latvala took exception to the fact that Kriseman’s initiative conceived with the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce – the Baseball Forever Campaign – has been formed solely to make sure that the Rays ultimately remain in St. Pete, though the team has said for years they want out of their lease at Tropicana Field and want the opportunity to explore sights elsewhere in the Bay area.

In January the City Council granted the team that right, and Rays officials have already had a couple of meetings with officials in Hillsborough County.

Latvala says that funding for the construction came from taxes generated in Pinellas, and that St. Pete barely constitutes a little more than a fourth of that county.

“Unless St. Petersburg plans to finance a future from revenues generated solely within the city limits, I believe it would be to include from the very beginning some leaders from other governments, such as the Pinellas County Commission or Tourist Development Council, and then from other geographic regions of the county who have a vested interest in our local economy,” he wrote.

Kriseman writes that the city will work closely with other neighboring cities “or counties” should the Rays identify a future stadium site outside St. Petersburg, “as we fully support the regional impact of this team.”

But he maintains that as the mayor of St.Petersburg, his number one job will always be to keep major assets like the Rays in his city.

“We strongly believe that the Rays’ current site, reimagined and redeveloped, remains their best long-term option, and we’re confident that the team’s exploration will lead them to agree,” he writes.

St. Pete officials recently  invited development and consultant firms to submit their qualifications to be considered for development of a master plan of the 85-acre Tropicana Field site -with or without a new ballpark design attached.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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