Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Push for Progress on Rays Stadium Saga

Both the Times and the Trib listed the Stadium Saga as one of the biggest stories facing Tampa Bay in 2014.

According to the Times, its one of the region's "seven biggest stories" {link to Times site}:
After four years of stalemates and failed negotiations between the Rays and Foster, incoming Mayor Rick Kriseman has an opportunity to start fresh. The Rays understandably want to look in Tampa at potential stadium sites, and it is up to Kriseman to find a creative way to let the team do that while protecting St. Petersburg's interests. It is unclear how either side of the bay would find the money to help pay for a new stadium that likely will cost more than $500 million. That's why the Rays need to look for the best site on either side of the bay so the tougher financial discussions can begin.

The Rays' lease with St. Petersburg to play in Tropicana Field expires in 2027, and every year that ticks off that deal means less negotiating leverage for the city. Six years have been wasted, and Tampa Bay cannot let another three or four years go to waste if this region hopes to keep major-league baseball here for the long term.
The holdup is that St. Pete has insisted the Rays discuss finances and compensation for breaking a contract early, while the team doesn't want to until they can search specific sites.

I'm not sure three or four more years of inaction would necessarily doom the long-term prospects of MLB in the region since the current contract runs for another 13 years.

Meanwhile, the Trib says progress "needn't be a stretch next year":
Kriseman should acknowledge that reality and also recognize the city could benefit should the team move. The Tropicana site could offer St. Petersburg some powerful redevelopment opportunities.

The team’s ownership, for its part, needs to demonstrate a commitment to the area and a willingness to make financial contributions toward a new stadium.
As far as I can remember, this is the first time the Trib has called upon the Rays to stop stalling and talk finances.  Of course, the Times has been suggesting it for years, only to give the team a free pass at every opportunity.

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