To be clear, I am not suggesting that the mayor roll over. There is no reason for that. He has aWait, did I say Romano was being reasonable? Nevermind, he suggested the Rays might one day voluntarily open their books.
terrific lease at Tropicana Field, and he should use it to his greatest benefit.
But he needs to recognize the lease will be half-over by the end of the year, and the Rays are going to pay less and less to get out of it as the expiration date draws nearer.
He should tell Sternberg he considers the Rays to be important business partners. And he hasn't given up on the idea of baseball in his town.
But if his business partner wants to look at sites in Hillsborough, the mayor will not stand in the way as long as the Rays make some concessions.
First of all, they need to sign a contract that acknowledges that such a move in no way weakens the lease at Tropicana. Since the Rays signed a similar document when looking at a waterfront site, this shouldn't be a problem.
The Rays also need to put up $1 million in earnest money for the privilege of talking to Tampa. Again, this shouldn't be much of a deal breaker.
Finally, should the Rays eventually decide that moving to downtown Tampa is integral to the
franchise's future, they must agree to allow St. Pete to view their finances to prove this is true. I'm betting that one will be sticky.
People don't give Foster (a lawyer) enough credit for paying attention to the end game. He has always known his job is to leverage a buyout number the city can live with. Just like Sternberg's job is to wiggle his way out of the contract with minimal financial penalty.
So while the topic of contract buyout will be discussed next week, you probably won't hear about it in the media. Foster will continue to maintain his lawyer-like approach, while Sternberg will continue to call for a regional remedy.
Meanwhile, Foster's counterpart in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, will continue to tout his city's baseball potential while maintaining his statesman status.