In what seems a last ditch effort to salvage a deal before opening day, Mayor Rick Kriseman will this week unveil a revised agreement to let the Tampa Bay Rays explore new stadium sites across Tampa Bay.Kriseman wouldn't have to make a last-ditch effort before anything if he hadn't set a (second) arbitrary deadline of Opening Day in the first place.
I've previously written how the mayor's self-imposed deadlines only serve to reduce his negotiating power with the Rays. There's nothing to gain; deadlines could only make him - not the Rays - look bad if they're missed. In fact, it may have led to the unpopular deal the mayor couldn't get through city council in December (ahead of his first self-imposed deadline, Dec 31).
Now, a second missed deadline could further shift public opinion against the city/mayor and allow the Rays to gain more negotiating leverage without making any further concessions.
For Mayor Kriseman, setting an arbitrary deadline for a deal when you've got the upper hand on negotiations is like holding a vote on a future pier design without a plan of what to do if the voters don't choose your favori...wait, nevermind.
To the Rays' credit, it seems the team made a concession on the new deal; O'Donnell reports St. Pete will now get 100% of Trop redevelopment money instead of just 50%. I'm guessing the team would still have to sign off on any new Trop development as long as they're still there...but wouldn't be a big issue if things are amicable.
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Times' columnist John Romano advocated approval of the MOU, and the Times' Charlie Frago reported councilman Charlie Gerdes will work to persuade his fellow board members to approve it too.
But O'Donnell's informal poll of the eight councilmembers indicates there doesn't seem to be enough support to change the four firm "no" votes right now.
A quick check of the five council members who scuttled Kriseman’s original deal in December suggests Kriseman will still come up short, with only councilwoman Amy Foster saying she was close to changing her mind. Approval of the memorandum requires five votes among the eight-member council.Recent reports that the Rays' value continues to soar makes it even less likely some councilmembers will be satisfied with the approx. $2/million "severance" offered by the Rays.
“I don’t have the feeling that it’s done and dead forever,” Foster said.The four other council members – Steve Kornell, Bill Dudley, Jim Kennedy and Wengay Newton - said Wednesday they still oppose the deal.
“Evan Longoria makes more than that,” Dudley said. “The city is worth no more than you pay a ball player? I find that hard to believe.”Kriseman can't afford another "no" vote from the eight-member council, so backing off the Opening Day promise may be in his best interests.
Including interest on construction loans, taxpayers still have to pay another $58 million toward the stadium through a combination of city, county and state taxes.
By the time that debt is cleared, the final bill on the stadium will be $338 million, a figure that does not include millions more spent on upgrades and maintenance.
After all, the Rays may prefer to avoid stadium discussions during the season, but if Kriseman happened to work out a deal in May, the Rays would be happy to sit back down to the negotiating table, Bob Buckhorn's dinner table, the Seminoles' blackjack table...or just about any other table that might help them get out of Downtown St. Pete.