Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Are St. Pete Residents Really Ready to Let Rays Look?

The Tampa Bay Times reported this morning {link to Times' site} a poll they recently conducted shows more St. Pete residents (48%) are willing to let the Rays look at Tampa stadium sites than ever before.  This shouldn't be surprising, since even Mayor Foster has changed his stance on the subject, but there are some key takeaways from today's story:
 (Sheila Thorne) doesn't want the team moving to a new stadium in Hillsborough County. But more than anything, she hates discord between her city and her team.

"The Rays did sign a contract,'' to play at the Trop through 2027, Thorne said, "but I sure as blazes am not going to hold them back from going to Tampa. I am proud to have the Rays be our team in the Tampa Bay area. Why did we come to this conflict of everybody being unhappy? It's defeating the purpose."
If Thorne's attitude is similar to that of other St. Pete residents, its a sign Bud Selig's public relations war on Tampa Bay really is working.
The Rays have declined to comment, but Rick Kriseman, Foster's opponent in Tuesday's mayoral election, accused the mayor of not being candid.

"I have talked to (Rays president) Matt Silverman and I was told that the allegation is not true — that the Rays weren't offering anything,'' Kriseman said. "They expressed concerns about how forthright the mayor is being with them and the community on this issue.''
There really don't appear to be any big differences between what Kriseman says he'll do if elected and what Foster has done - except perhaps temperment.   Both men are lawyers; both say they'll try to boost attendance at the Trop; and both insist the Rays need to pay the city to break/amend their contract (although the Trib reports at least one council member thinks Kriseman's price might be lower than Foster's).

But either way, a Kriseman victory on Nov. 5 might not change the dynamic of the Stadium Saga very much at all.
In the poll, 38 percent of respondents would let the team look in Hillsborough — but only after the Rays and city negotiate some financial compensation. Ten percent of respondents would allow a Hillsborough search without preconditions.

Almost 4 in 10 said the Rays should stay at the Trop, period. African-American residents, in particular, felt this way, opposing any Tampa forays 52-35 percent.
The fact that African-Americans oppose a move could be attributed to any number of factors, but there's a good chance some of the opposition stems from all the failed promises (better jobs, urban renewal, etc) the city made the black community in the 1980s when the stadium displaced so many from their homes.


  1. Think it's a mistake to require a negotiated settlement BEFORE the Rays are allowed to look. On the off-chance they find their perfect spot after looking, they might be inclined to be MORE generous with the city. Anyway, they're locked into their agreement, so short of contraction, they're not going anywhere.

    In terms of African-American opinion on the subject (and this is only anecdotal, from what I've seen with my own eyes) I'd take their position more seriously if I saw more of them at the games.

  2. (I recognize, but don't necessarily agree with, the city's position that the mere act of allowing the Rays to look weakens the city's legal position. Have no idea where that canard came from. The current use-agreement is either inviolable or it is not.)

  3. Newsflash! The Rays doesn't need to "look" around, the "smartest front office in sports" knows what their going to do & how! All this drummed up drama to "sell more papers" is unnecessary, and is teenage girl-like banter. The ONLY thing is if or if not St.Pete will play fair, and let the Rays get a jump start on the inevitable move. And please Noah don't act like the Rays haven't saved St.Pete & made St.Pete more then they should of from the knee-jerk stadium build in the days of the early 90's, and that St.Pete should now just be thankful & not greedy, especially for a city that isn't big enough for a major professional sports franchise these days...