TAMPA, Florida - As elected leaders outside the city of St. Petersburg debate how best to break the stadium stalemate, a grass-roots group in Tampa is proposing a new fix: a Major League Baseball-commissioned stadium search group.
"Build it Downtown Tampa," a citizen group dedicated to helping the Rays find a new home in Downtown Tampa, has written MLB commissioner Bud Selig a letter urging him to intervene in the stalemate between St. Pete and the Rays.
The team has indicated it would not finish out its use agreement running through 2027; the city has indicated it was not willing to let the team look at possible stadium sites in Tampa.
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The founder of Build it Downtown Tampa, Ryan Neubauer, asked Selig to "get involved in our fight to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa Bay."
Neubauer said he wanted Selig to form a three-man committee to analyze new stadium possibilities in Tampa. Selig appointed a similar committee to study the Oakland A's search for a new stadium in 2009, but the group has yet to produce any tangible public results.
Neubauer says he just wants the discussion in Tampa Bay to move forward.
"We, Build It Downtown Tampa (BIDT), believe that downtown Tampa is the best location for that stadium in the event the Rays leave their current stadium," Neubauer wrote in his letter. "We are concerned that the current dialogue between the principle parties in the stadium matter has become stale and unproductive."
BIDT identifies itself as "a coalition of fans with a strong interest in supporting the Rays and seeing that the team not only stays, but thrives, in Tampa Bay."
READ: Build it Downtown Tampa letter to Bud Selig
Because of their existing contract, the Rays have kept quiet when it comes to specific site possibilities.
They've also kept quiet about specifics of their financials and whether they'd be willing to buy out of the current contract.
However, Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg met with St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster in January and said the meeting was productive.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn declined comment on the story Wednesday.
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