Would St. Petersburg trade the Tampa Bay Rays to Tampa for cruise ships?

4:36 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- Trades in Major League Baseball happen all the time. But rarely is a city trading a team for cruise ships discussed.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist wants to do just that.

"You've got to be creative in your thinking," he explained.

Crist points out the Port of Tampa is being sunk by only being able to handle midsized cruise ships. The newer megaships, carrying twice as many passengers, can't come to Tampa because they can't fit under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

At the same time, Crist knows about poor attendance at Tropicana Field and the Rays' desire to explore other stadium sites within the Tampa Bay area.

As a way to solve both problems, his pitch is to consider swapping the two. Put a new stadium in Tampa and a new cruise port in St. Pete, somewhere west of the Skyway.

"Maybe there's the potential for doing a deal here between Pinellas and Hillsborough where we both win... where we keep and grow baseball and we keep and grow our cruise industry," Crist said.

St. Pete City Councilman Wengay Newton, who sits on a regional planning council with Crist, laughed off the deal Thursday, calling it "unimaginable."

"As far as swapping a Major League Baseball team that we have over here for a cruise port?  I wouldn't be interested in that," Newton said.

But Crist argues it could be in the best interest of the entire region and wants to at least discuss the possibilities.

"We've got two great assets that we could grow.  What is it going to take to do that?" he said.

Crist says he's only had casual conversations about a stadium trade, but no formal discussions are scheduled.

10 News asked St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster for his thoughts, but he had no comment.

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