Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rays Can Rejoice! St. Pete Elects Stadium Swing Vote

The Tampa Bay Rays may finally be on the verge of getting their five-year-old wish granted: a blessing from St. Petersburg to explore stadium sites in Tampa at a price of their liking.

Although Tuesday's city council elections will influence countless of issues in St. Petersburg from wastewater problems to extreme school inequality to impoverished neighborhoods, the election for most outsider observers - and one local newspaper editorial board - came down to where candidates stood on the Rays' Stadium Saga.

Lisa Wheeler-Brown cruised to a 58%-42% District 7 victory over Will Newton, the brother of term-limited councilman Wengay Newton. Turnout for the election was just 17% of all eligible voters in St. Petersburg, approximately 30,000 votes. Incumbents Charlie Gerdes and Steve Kornell also coasted to victory.

Although she won't take office until January, Wheeler-Brown represents the pivotal fifth councilmember in favor of Mayor Rick Kriseman's negotiated compromise with the Rays.

ALSO READ: Give the Rays credit, they didn't get involved in campaign

Wheeler-Brown earned an important endorsement from the Tampa Bay Times by supporting Kriseman's deal that would allow the Rays to explore possible new stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, but require the team to pay the city approximately $2 million for every year the Rays leave St. Petersburg ahead of 2027, when their current agreement at Tropicana Field expires.

Will Newton, like his brother Wengay, had indicated the team should pay more and refused to support the mayor's deal. Kriseman's 2014 compromise was rejected by city council by 5-3 and 4-4 votes. Wengay Newton recently voted to approve a $4.6 million-per-year counteroffer to the team, which the Times panned and the Rays promptly rejected.

ALSO READ: Rays may be getting the bargain of the century

Mayor Kriseman has maintained his believe that a regional search will ultimately convince the Rays that they should build a new stadium in Pinellas County, most likely next to where Tropicana Field currently sits. He recently told me he thought it could be done without city tax dollars because of private interest in redevelopment around a new stadium, but Kriseman didn't offer funding specifics beyond that.

He did, however tweet congratulations to Wheeler-Brown Tuesday night.

While Hillsborough County appears to have a geographical advantage in landing a new baseball stadium, its available revenue streams are limited. Many current commissioners have pledged "no tax dollars" for a new stadium and the Rays don't appear likely to self-finance a new stadium themselves.

The Rays said they had no comment Tuesday night.

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  1. "Many current commissioners have pledged "no tax dollars" for a new stadium and the Rays don't appear likely to self-finance a new stadium themselves."

    The above should have been written in big bold letters because it equates to ZERO chance of a new stadium in Tampa or St Pete.

  2. "Turnout for the election was just 17% of all eligible voters in St. Petersburg, approximately 30,000 votes."

    Do these folks show up to anything?

    Cheap joke, but hard to resist.

    1. Matt -

      1. The other 83% were watching from their TV... The parties have a huge TV contract and will count the other 75,000 as part of the votes

      2. more people voted in person than attend Rays games...

      3. Actually more people voted than attended 2 Rays game...

    2. Ha, that's actually funny for once, Tom!

    3. Noah - sad thing is, points 2, and 3 are facts

    4. Incorrect (as your assumptions often are).

      2) Well below 10,000 people voted in-person yesterday. The majority voted by mail.

    5. Don't come to a knife fight armed with a pencil. The facts will erase you every time.

    6. Oh, even better Noah, now it's well below 10,000 people that actually came out and voted while the rest did so by mail?

      And how is it the "majority voted by mail?" if 10k of the 17k voted in person (as you say) ?

      The facts are still, only 17.38% voted - Ballots Cast: 30,366. That's marginally equal to 2 Rays game attendance.

      Does it matter how they voted in that case? Even with home voting, the turnout was pathetic.

      Did the other 83% forget to but stamps? Like they forget to attend games?


  3. The poor Montreal people. They have no idea that they won't be getting a professional baseball team. It's true. It's not going to happen. Oh well, at least they still have canadien football. My favorite team is the montreal maple leafs. My second favorite team is the winnipeg rough riders, my third favorite team is the calgary rough riders, my fourth favorite team is the edmonton rough riders, and finally, my fifth favorite team is the manitoba rough riders.

    1. When the only option is to insult Montreal (and Canadian) people rather than participating to the debate, we all understand that you are out of arguments and excuses.

      At 11:51PM, you better go to bed earlier in the future, you need some rest to better organized your thoughts and write something that make sense.

  4. Will the Canadian people be here complaining on this blog until they get a baseball team? If the Rays decide to stay in the Tampa Bay region, will the Canadians find a different local blog in a different city to moan at? Or will they continue pestering here. This blog has gotten so so weird. Maybe one just has to remember not to scroll down to the 15 comments from Canadians after every article.

    1. In Montreal, we just hope that the Rays situation will be resolved (positively is our first pick but it could be negatively for TB community). Montreal will get a team only and only when the Rays situation is resolved, that's why, after years of looking at what was going on around the league and being quiet, reading about the stadium saga, we are now voicing our views.

      Until last winter, very few people on this blog understood what was going on in Montreal regarding baseball, MLB return and the process in place. Most of the valuable information and developments are covered in the french medias and only a fraction of this info is covered by english medias in Canada and in the USA.

      This is why we relay this information but also, make sure Tampa Bay fans understand the whole picture and context. We are kind of the external view of the whole debate, we are learning from it but you can also learn from our views too!

      We know that MLB wants the Rays to stay in TB, this is their priority. But in order to make it work, all parties must be able to sit down and develop a global plan, a vision on how to make it successful. Rays future is driven by the Tampa Bay fans, the politicians, the communities (and tax payers) and the Rays organization in no specific order.

      Once that said, this is not what all parties demonstrated so far and there are components of the plan that are more critical than others in 2015. Attendance is one of them and probably the most visible one.

      One thing is sure, as soon as the situation in TB will improve on all sides (attendance, site search, financing, …), Canadians and Montrealers will probably stop voicing their opinions and comments because the expansion process will start rapidly and we will be part of it as fans but also as tax payers too.

      And if the saga continue over and over again, then our voice will be even louder because we are ready to sit down with all parties to make it successful and the other parties are also ready to do the same. There’s only one missing party and it’s a MLB franchise.

      So the only way to get rid of Canadians and Montrealers, is to make sure the TB communities make their minds about the Rays and what they want, once and for all.

    2. Well said, Pat.

      AnnoyingMouse can take your comments to the bank!

      Like you said, Montreal's MLB situation can be addressed once The Rays' situation is sorted -

      1. either the Rays stay put in Tampa and get a new stadium - in which case MLB looks at expansion for Montreal down the road; OR

      2. The Rays' cannot find a new home in Tampa and MLB looks at relocation of the Rays somewhere - like Montreal

      Either way, the Rays are central to Montreal's quest for a team.

    3. Skipped beyond both Canadian replies without reading them to remind you that your concerns aren't our concerns and your opinion means nothing.

    4. Can't wait to read your concerns and opinions! In the meantime, remember that with an Anonymous signature, we will attribute you all the comments, the good ones and the bad ones.

      By the way, your last comment was the 15th one! What a coincidence! Are you Canadian?

    5. Pat - AnnoyingMouse @3:47 has no real comments nor adds anything to the discussions here - American or Canadian. Heck, he doesn't even use a name to post his nonsense, what makes you think the post has anything worthwhile?

    6. But if our anonymous friend wasn't here, how would we know what to take to the bank? Either way, his point is moot because despite being Canadian, I watch the Rays on MLB.TV, so my opinion should just be as valid as any local fan that only watches on TV. Plus, I have supported this team on the road, in addition to games at the Trop. But as Pat wrote above, and as I have said previously, these two regions will be linked until a new stadium deal is reached. Its really very simple.

      But hey, if you want to troll for the sake of trolling, whatever. We've just got to stop feeding you.

  5. I have a very simple message for Tampa city council and the Rays (as my grandfather used to say) " Either crap or get off the pot". So that everyone can get on with their lives.