On the ongoing stadium issue:Interesting notion - if it's in St. Pete's best interest to develop land as something other than tax-free baseball land, why would it be in Tampa's best interests to do the opposite? It's a question covered in this blog before.
“I’ve been very animate and clear that I want to find the pinpoint perfect spot in the Tampa Bay region. I still believe in the (Tampa Bay) area more so than people at (Major League) Baseball, more so probably than the national media. I believe in it and I want to make it work, but it has to be in the right spot.
“Those who follow the game and follow the way attendance goes at sporting events, we, more than any other market, need to be pinpoint perfect on where our next facility is going to be, whenever that happens.”
On if there is any new proposal to get out of the Tropicana Field contract with the city of St. Petersburg. (In December, city council rejected an plan that would have given the team three years to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas.)
“It could have happened. It went for a vote way back in December and much to my dismay nothing came of it. I understand we can’t just snap our fingers. But from the mayor’s (St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman) vantage point, he’s been in office for a little more than a year, true to his word he was willing to explore things toward the end of the season with us to try to hammer out an agreement. True to mine last year I wasn’t going to press on it until he got his legs under him.
“In two month’s time, we (Rays and Kriseman) are able to hammer out an agreement that I think is a bit unfair to us and a bit unfair to the city if people want to look at it that way. But certainly, at our level of where we can see to make this thing work and went before a (city council) vote in December and didn’t pass.
“So now I’d like to think the mayor has some work. Maybe there’s something else we can do. We have spent time speaking to most if not all of the people on the council. We remain open to having meetings with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week at any point in time. I still don’t quite understand where the opposition is coming from.
“The one thing that came out of the commission was the idea about our development rights, which was never the intention and obviously got a little bungled that day, but we cleared that up right away, and yet there’s always something else.
“We don’t even know what it is we can do differently. It’s a little bit of a dismay because the mayor is somebody who had a hell of a mandate coming in here to run this city and do things, and I think the mayor is looking out for the citizens of St. Petersburg, recognizing that having baseball in their mists, whether it’s in St. Petersburg, Pinellas or Tampa, is in the best interest in the citizens of St. Petersburg.
“I just don’t know exactly why the council people feel it’s not in the citizens of St. Petersburg’s best interest to get the land back, develop the land, have a bunch of taxes coming in, create construction jobs, create long-term jobs, still have baseball within their mists and guarantee that baseball is going to be here for multi-, multi-generations. I don’t get it.”
On the perception that he is not being truthful about his motives to either stay in the area or move the team to another part of the country or Montreal:
“If I were a fan on the other side of it, there’s a tendency not to necessarily believe what the owner of the baseball team has to say. The walk that I walk has been what it is. I’m true to my word. I try to be as honest as I can about payroll going up, payroll going down, ‘Where do we stand in the future?’ This is not about trying to play people or anything.
“We tried to build a stadium seven years ago (in downtown St. Petersburg). We tried in earnest and it fell flatter than a flat pancake. The timing necessarily wasn’t right for whatever reason. There was some opposition. We’re still at it. We could take any of those other routes. We’re here to compete, we’re here to win, we’re here to have baseball grow in the region even though we’re last in attendance.
“It’s still a magical thing for me and my family and for the fans that follow us and the hundreds and hundreds of thousands who watch us on TV and listen to us on the radio... We have a very dedicated following, and that’s who we’re here to play for."