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Rays sit down with Tampa’s mayor to discuss ditching St. Petersburg and splitting season

Mayor Jane Castor wants a full-time team, but she’s not saying no.
Credit: AP
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

TAMPA, Fla — There’s certainly no love lost between the Tampa Bay Rays and the mayor of St. Petersburg, and now, it appears the team is trying to cozy up to Jane Castor.

Tampa’s mayor met Monday with the Rays about a possible move across the bay, and both sides seem to be happy about the prospects for a deal – even with a massive real estate question still very much up in the air.

“The Rays want to stay in the Tampa Bay area. We want to keep them in the Tampa Bay area, and we’re going to do everything that we can with the caveat that the citizens’ appetite of paying for a stadium is about zero at this point,” Castor told the Tampa Bay Times.

Negotiations over who would pay for an $892 million ball park in Tampa struck out in 2018.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Rays' $892 million stadium in Ybor City: 1st photos released. Now, who pays for it?

But with the Rays locked in a never-ending war of words with the city of St. Petersburg, it looks like the team is willing to take a swing at any opportunity to ditch Tropicana Field once their contract expires in 2027.

Credit: AP
Worker replace the infield dirt at Tropicana Field Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla., before the start of the 2016 Tampa Bay Rays season. Rays pitchers and catcher report for spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Feb. 18. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

After the meeting with Castor, the Rays released this statement:

“Today, we took a meaningful step toward securing the future of Rays baseball in Tampa Bay beyond 2027. We appreciate Mayor Castor and Commissioner Hagan’s leadership and look forward to a continued dialogue with City and County stakeholders. We remain focused on the Sister City concept and unwavering in our commitment to work in partnership with the community as this process moves forward.”

And that brings up to the other proverbial elephant.

The Rays remain committed to the idea of splitting their season between Tampa Bay and Montreal. Mayor Rick Kriseman called a foul and said St. Petersburg would accept nothing less than a full-time team.

Tampa’s mayor seems to be taking a softer approach.

“The focus was on the split season, but I don’t think the full season is off the table yet," Castor told the Times.

“I continue to be optimistic about the Rays. I look forward to continued collaboration and conversations with the Rays and the County on ways we can move forward to keep baseball, this beloved pastime, in the region.”

Credit: WTSP

RELATED: The Rays throw another curveball, but St. Pete's mayor is playing hardball

RELATED: The Rays aren't splitting their season between St. Pete and Montreal – Now what?

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