Friday, October 12, 2012

More Fallout from Rays' Hillsborough Push

Yesterday's news in the Stadium Saga - a proposed amendment by the Rays to only consider St. Pete stadium sites if they can consider Tampa stadium sites too - wasn't exactly new news.  But it certainly excited a lot of Rays fans in Hillsborough County.

Especially the Tampa Tribune!

Not only did the paper cover the developments, but it also published a seperate article about Jeff Vinik possibly assembling stadium land in Downtown Tampa.  Of course, there was no real suggestion that's what a group connected to Vinik was trying to do when it bought land across the street from the arena it already owns...but it makes for a good headline.

As for the proposed amendment to the Rays' stadium contract, St. Petersburg council members - and the city attorney - were leery of its intentions.

"Most of my colleagues' concern is protecting that investment first," Jeff Danner told the Trib, adding the amendment could considerably weaken St. Pete's contract with the team.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Danner suggested financial compensation for breaking the contract, as theorized yesterday on this blog.

Councilman Steve Kornell added his opposition to the amendment, saying, "If Tampa is a better solution...then why haven't I been able to watch a Bucs home game on TV for a couple of years?''

The most thought-provoking reasons for possibly rejecting the Rays' offer came from St. Pete City Attorney Mark Wolfe and Mayor Bill Foster.

Wolfe said that while St. Pete would retain "veto power" over a new stadium deal, they could be pressured politically to give in to "tough buyout terms" if the Rays cut a deal in Hillsborough County. 

"The newspapers are going to be all over us for being unresponsive,'' Wolfe was quoted in the Times. "You will have pressure on you from all sides.''

Foster said that he was determined not to play the saga out in the media (where the leagues have big advantages over municipalities), even if it means taking talks behind closed doors and away from the public eye.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan is "delighted" to speak to the Rays and entertain talks, regardless of what St. Petersburg decides.

A Tampa vs. St. Pete tug-of-war: exactly what the blueprint for a new stadium calls for.


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