St. Pete approves Rays stadium deal

St. Pete lets Rays look in Pinellas, Hillsborough

A major deal in St. Pete: The Tampa Bay Rays can now look for a stadium site outside of the city -- in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

The St. Petersburg City Council passed the agreement in a 5-3 vote.

The debate's divided the council and both sides of the Bay for years.  10News WTSP is digging deeper into what this will mean for the team and taxpayers.

"We're pretty excited," says Rays owner Stu Sternberg.  He says the third agreement hammered out between the Rays and Mayor Rick Kriseman is a home run for the team, city and fans.

 

"If we can try to illuminate the things that I've kept people potentially away from our park to this point, that's a big start," says Sternberg.

"Good result.  Time to move forward," says Kriseman.

This deal is different from the first two strikeouts with the council.

If the Rays stay through their 2027 contract, they'll get half of the proceeds from any redevelopment on the 85-acre Tropicana Field site.

Otherwise the team will have to pay the city up to $24 million  in penalties, depending when they break the contract.

"This is just a starting point for a potentially larger relocation," says Council member Jim Kennedy.

Kennedy, Steve Kornell, and newly-elected council member Ed Montanari didn't want to play ball, saying the deal doesn't benefit the city enough and gives the team the upper hand.

"We could create a situation where we allow the Rays to use negotiating leverage," says Montanari.

The Rays won't say if they're looking at a particular site or how much taxpayers may have to bring to the plate.

When 10News Conlon asked Sternberg how he expects the financing to play out and if he expects a lot of the burden to fall on taxpayers.  His response, "I have no expectations at this point."

"We don't know if this ballpark is going to have a roof or not, we don't know if the walls are going to be retractable.  We want to look at absolutely anything and everything.  The funding decisions are obviously going to come out of the process," says Rays President Brian Auld.

"Council members, I believe your support will give the city of St. Petersburg it's best chance to be the forever home of the Tampa Bay Rays," says Kriseman.

In the next two months the Rays will lay out for the city exactly what they'll be looking for in a new stadium site.  They must give St. Pete six months to make its pitch why the team should stay at the Trop.

Kriseman says he'll now put together a campaign committee rallying to keep the Rays in St. Pete.

In a statement, Tampa Mayor Buckhorn says, "It is time we broke the stalemate, and I look forward to the opportunity for the Rays to explore all options. Commissioner Hagan and I have agreed throughout this process that the most important thing is for them to stay in Tampa Bay. I believe an agreement reached sooner rather than later will ensure their continued future here.

"The Tampa Bay Rays deserve our community's best efforts and brightest minds put to the task, and given the opportunity, that is exactly what we will do. It would be a complicated project, but it is worthy of a full and healthy discussion."

Click here to read St. Pete's agreement with the Rays.


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