Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Day, Another Times Editorial Whacking Bill Foster

Sure, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board recently complimented Bill Foster, but this week, it was right back to its favorite activity, criticizing the mayor.

Today's editorial indicated the mayor was stuck in 1986, and his approach toward the Stadium Saga "may get him to next year's election for mayor, but in the long run it is a losing one for the city":

Yet in St. Petersburg City Hall, it's still 1986. That is when the bitter fight between St. Petersburg and Tampa over baseball ended and the St. Petersburg City Council voted to build the domed stadium now called Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay has matured since then, cooperation has replaced old rivalries and the Rays have played at the Trop for 15 seasons. Only St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and City Attorney John Wolfe remain in denial, stuck in the past and fighting outdated parochial battles over another baseball stadium.

For those scoring at home, the Rays reasonably want to look in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for a site for a new stadium to replace the outdated Trop. A regional franchise needs to look at its entire market, and the Rays have ranked at or near the bottom in attendance despite fielding a competitive, entertaining team. Foster refuses to let the Rays look outside St. Petersburg or nearby Pinellas.

This is a fatally flawed strategy. Every year that ticks off the lease makes it easier for the Rays to leave Tampa Bay. Pinellas County commissioners understand the need for a regional discussion, and they plan to meet with the Rays. So do Hillsborough County commissioners, who should not back down. So does Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. So does the business community on both sides of the bay. So do pragmatic St. Petersburg City Council members such as Jeff Danner and Charles Gerdes. The number of public officials hiding with Foster behind pinched legal opinions shrinks by the month.
As I've written before, the "every year that ticks off the lease" argument doesn't hold water since every year that St. Pete keeps the Rays at the Trop, it's recovering part of the investment it made in the team.

And while the Times is quick to bash Foster for not giving in to the Rays' request, it hasn't held team owner Stuart Sternberg to the same standards.  The newspaper has repeatedly suggested Sternberg offer St. Pete financial compensation for the right to expand the stadium search, but there was zero suggestion of such a proposal in the Rays' recent reply to the city.


  1. A republican backed paper bashing a republican, go figure. Though I vote Dem., I will say, though I would let the Rays comfortably go to Tampa while scrapping every dollar from them I could, then build up a greater downtown, we can't, nor should knock Billy for trying to do everything he can to keep St. Pete's cash cow in the Rays, whether for scoring political points OR for honestly looking out for the best interest of Pinellas...

  2. The Rays coverage alone makes me want to cancel my subscription to the Times. Those idiots just want to sling money after a bunch of billionaires with no regard to the best interests of the community.

    If the reporters would actually research half as much as the fine writing done here, then the whole 'new stadium' farce would rapidly decay. No serious markets exist for a team to move these days and the morons in Tampa clamoring for a seat at the bargaining table are doing nothing but driving the price up.

    Should we really give MORE publicly funded millions to an owner with ZERO insistence on financial review? Foster should call the Rays out and draw a final line: show us your books for public review and come up with a solution to pay off the current debts that are supporting you here. Otherwise, no talks or negotiations will occur.