Saturday, May 30, 2015

Times Cranks Up Pressure on Opponents of Rays Compromise

No love lost between the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board and the St. Pete councilmembers concerned the Rays aren't offering enough for the right to adjust their ironclad contract.  After a five-hour council workshop Thursday, of course we knew another critical editorial was coming:
The rambling conversation revealed the lack of vision and sophistication of half of the council members to grasp what is at stake, and it underscored the importance of this fall's elections to add more thoughtful voices.
The Times is right on one thing - this fall's city election is the Rays' best chance at getting permission to look at stadium sites in Hillsborough County.  I've even suggested the team has political tools at its disposal if it chooses to use them.

But again, I maintain the Times is too critical of councilmembers who truly believe their constituents deserve better...and agree with the legal opinion of many that the MOU would ultimately make it easier for the Rays to leave Tampa Bay.  After all, not all attorneys will see an identical contract identically:
ALSO READ: Newspapers Histoically Drive New Stadium Campaigns

The Times editorial continues:
The Rays' understandable desire to search for a new stadium site in either Pinellas or Hillsborough counties offers an opportunity to preserve Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay for a new generation. It also would allow St. Petersburg to proceed with a master-planned development of the Trop's 85 acres, with or without a new stadium. That would increase property values throughout surrounding neighborhoods, create jobs and generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue.
This is all probably true.  But it could get very costly.  And more importantly, if St. Petersburg would be better-off giving a big plot of land to a developer instead of a baseball team...why wouldn't Tampa?  File that one under "questions nobody wants to answer."
[I]t will be the outcome of the City Council elections that ultimately will determine whether St. Petersburg moves forward or continues to squander an opportunity to transform the city.
One of the four "no" votes on council, Jim Kennedy, doesn't have to run.  Another, Bill Dudley, will likely be replaced by like-minded Ed Montanari.  A third "no" vote, liberal-minded Steve Kornell, will continue to face some pressure from the Times, but remains a favorite to keep his seat on November 3.

Which puts all the eggs in the basket of whomever replaces Wengay Newton in St. Pete's minority-heavy District 7.  It's pretty much guaranteed the first candidate to support the mayor's deal with the Rays (when Newton would not) would a shoo-in for both the endorsement of the Times and potential political muscle of the Rays.

That may explain why Lisa Wheeler Brown, the only candidate in District 7 who has filed a campaign report so far, said she would likely support the mayor's lead on the issue. She has already received campaign checks from prominent stadium-search supporters, including ABC Coalition & Kriseman Transition Team member Craig Sher, as well as three St. Pete councilmembers: Darden Rice, Amy Foster, and Karl Nurse - all of whom voted "yes" on Thursday to the deal that would have let the Rays explore Tampa.

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A brief history of Times editorials on the Stadium Saga:
The history goes further back than that, but for a good synopsis, watch my 2010 piece on newspapers cheerleading for new stadium projects


  1. Regarding:
    "It also would allow St. Petersburg to proceed with a master-planned development of the Trop's 85 acres, with or without a new stadium. "
    So if developing of these 85 acres is so potentially lucrative, and can be done with or without a new stadium, then why not proceed now to do the development?

  2. It's very funny, this is like a bad (or good) reality show. Because St. Pete won't let the Rays "publicly" look for other stadium sites outside of St. Pete, but yet they won't help w/ tix sales. For the Rays, they are going to leave anyways, and for St. Pete, why let them leave when their jobs are on the ballot, I mean line, and might as well rake in the $$$ while they can for the city, but then the Rays counter with tanking tix sales to make St. Pete look bad, while they plan to cash in off of SunSports instead. The city of Tampa & their silent backers have $$$ for the Rays, and they rather be with them, even though they can't "publicly" say so, and have to sneak around them until both Channelside is ready for them & their lease is cheaper. And don't forget about the others, like Montreal, Charlotte, Las Vegas, etc. swarming around trying to take St. Pete's girl, I mean team, while the Rays act interested in them to try to break their relationship to "legally" be with Tampa. All while they have the media & people of baseball & TB guessing whats next?! "Tune in next week" is what the reality shows would say, lol...

  3. Let's move the Rays out of low class St. Pete!!!!

  4. That there is any question at all as to the intent and effect of the MOU is a testament to poor drafting of the document. It is good that the council members paused to read it closely before signing.

    Ambiguity can benefit one party in one provision and be a detriment to the same party in some other provision. Because of the clarity of the existing UA, any ambiguity tends to favor the Rays. Moreover, the document states that the City drafted it. One common canon of construction (a legal tiebreaker used to analyze a document) holds that a document is construed against the drafter. That is, in a dispute about an ambiguity, where the scales are otherwise evenly balanced, the party who controlled and drafted the document loses. So what we have here is: (1) a clear enough existing UA, (2) an ambiguous MOU, and (3) the City raising its hand to say it controlled the drafting of the MOU. Other language in the paragraph tries to soften that canon, but the damage is done.

    When parties want the intent to be clear, they will make it clear. When they do not, they will not. Sometimes only one side is paying close attention, and that's where the other side gets burned. The team benefits from the ambiguity.