In a letter, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg asks Foster for a number of concessions in the use agreement, including lifting the contract's prohibition on negotiations with other municipalities. In return, Sternberg offers contract language that would prohibit a new agreement elsewhere "until the Rays and the City of St. Petersburg have reached a mutually-acceptable resolution regarding how best to wind down our lease of Tropicana Field."
"This amendment will allow for a throrough evaluation of sites, in only Pinellas County and Hillsborough County," Sternberg continued in his letter. "It is a responsible process to undertake before any decisions about a new ballpark in the region can be made, collectively, by the Rays, the public, community leaders, and our elected representatives."
Sternberg's letter to Hagan implores "joint, collaborative meetings between the Rays and all the Tampa Bay area local governments who wish to ensure the long-term success of Major League Baseball in the bay area."
Just when Foster started to crank up the pressure on the Rays, Sternberg returns volley with a simple, logical argument Foster will have trouble refusing.
While allowing the Rays to open up conversations with Hillsborough County could diminish St. Pete's leverage down the road (studies will inevitably conclude Tampa is a better market for a team than St. Pete), Sternberg's promise to "preserve the City of St. Petersburg's rights" is a convincing one.
A payout was actually suggested by the Tampa Bay Times editorial board too, but not offered by Sternberg. So even if Foster is open to the amendment, it could require lengthy negotiations for the two sides to see eye-to-eye.
Foster told WTSP-TV on Thursday afternoon that he'll have to discuss the amendment with his staff and had no immediate answer.