Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Key Reactions to Rays Agreement with St. Pete

Didn't get enough from this morning's press conference?

Former St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster:
Hizzoner sent a scathing letter this afternoon criticizing a number of items in the deal, including the low number the city may have just put on what was previously considered "irreparable harm."  He is concerned the Rays may use this agreement against the region to flee Florida altogether, suggesting the current mayor is "selling out the City for the price of a Ryan Hannigan (a fine catcher)," Foster wrote.

St. Pete Councilmembers:
Several told me they were cautiously optimistic, but at least two said they would not vote 'yea' this week.  Karl Nurse said he had concerns about specific clauses, while Jim Kennedy said he was upset the mayor didn't give the public enough time to vet it before throwing it on a council agenda. 

Chairman Bill Dudley told the Trib he has serious questions about the lack of compensation, including zero for site demolition.  Wengay Newton was quoted in the Times as asking, "Evan Longoria has a $100 million contract. Does that mean he can go talk to the Yankees?...Do I tell my wife of 24 years I love you but I want to go and look and see what else is out there?"

Other members were more optimistic, but Kriseman will have to work it the next 48 hours to secure 5 of 8 votes.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn:
My counterpart, Kendra Conlon, reports Buckhorn says the Rays will "have to come to the table with money...there will not be a referendum...We will have to look at options like a rental car surcharge, tourist development tax, potentially along with some public financing,” says Mayor Buckhorn.

Ahem, rental car taxes and tourist taxes are public financing, mayor...but I digress...

Conlon added that Buckhorn likes the area between downtown and Ybor City, just off Nebraska Avenue.  But as I reported earlier, the CRA district there isn't producing much revenue and funding would be anything but easy.

Rays Owner Stu Sternberg:
Out at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Sternberg upped the ante again, suggesting he'd sell the team by 2023 if there's no new stadium, and the team would then be "doomed to leave."  Field of Scheme's famous non-threat threat!

Do we need to remind you again of MLB's long-standing policy of scaring cities about possibly losing their teams?

Anyway, here's a video appearance Sternberg taped shortly thereafter....his TBO.com Q&A transcript...and a few other things he said:

Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda:
The long-time opponent of stadium subsidies told Conlon today that the Rays “can build their own stadium anywhere they choose, when they start asking for public money is a problem with me."  He's got some power in the city, but not nearly enough to stop the financing of Raymond James Stadium in the 90's as he tried.

Times' John Romano:
The sports-turned-metro columnist wrote the deal was necessary, but he also acknowledged a reality I've written about endlessly: "What we will soon discover is that financing is not going to be easily found, and Rays owner Stu Sternberg will be asked to pony up more money than he would prefer.
That could make Tropicana more inviting than ever before, because it is a huge swath of land Sternberg already controls. A new stadium could be built in the parking lots on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street side of the property, making it much closer to St. Pete's growing downtown."

Saint Petersblog:
Poll numbers show Kriseman may have disappointed his constituents, while also motivating new mayoral challengers ahead of 2017.

Times' Editorial Board:
I'll bet $100 million (bed tax dollars, because those aren't my dollars) there's one later today.
Sure enough, here it is.


  1. "There will not be a referendum."

    Interesting tidbit from Buckhorn there.

  2. And this is one of many reasons I didn't vote for Foster again. We really can't force the team to stay. We can force the team to pay penalties, but we can't force them stay. Either we make it so they want to stay or we don't. simple.

  3. that said. maybe we aren't willing to pay the price for enticing them to stay. As much as I love baseball, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't support increased taxes to make it happen.