Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's Election Day for the Rays! (and the rest of St. Pete too)

It's election day in St. Pete!

And like it or not, an election about so many important issues - from poverty and extreme school inequality to wastewater failures and affordable housing - has been simplified by the Tampa Bay Times into a referendum on the Rays' stadium situation.  Oh look, there's another editorial today.  Ho hum.

St. Pete voters (albeit, not many of them) will go to the polls to cast ballots for three city council seats, one of which is expected to be the swing vote in future negotiations with the Rays.

At the start of 2015, I wrote there were three ways the Rays could break the so-called stalemate:
  1. Pay more to get their way, which we know they really don't want to do.
  2. Form a PAC to influence St. Pete's election with dark money, which they said they wouldn't do.
  3. Get involved by backing a candidate publicly, which they also said they wouldn't do.
To the Rays' credit, they stayed true to their word and did not get involved in this complicated political and social decision (with the small exception of general counsel John Higgins donating a few bucks)...but if a recent poll is any indication, they may still get their way if Lisa Wheeler-Brown defeats Will Newton in St. Pete's District 7.

Wheeler-Brown won support from the Times by pledging her support to Mayor Kriseman's previously-negotiated deal with the Rays, which would pay the team an average of about $2 million for each year they left the Trop prior to 2027.
Newton indicated he would lean more toward the kind of deal his brother, term-limited councilman Wengay Newton, just voted for that would net the city about $4.6 million for each year the Rays bail out early.
READ: The math on St. Pete's three proposed Rays plans
READ: Nobody covering the Stadium Saga can count...or read

Of course, council has been negotiating against itself for so long, even the worst-case scenario for the Rays right now is an extreme bargain compared to the tens of millions per year other teams have had to pay for ditching out on leases early. 

The winner of today's election won't take office until the new year, so if it's Wheeler-Brown, we may be able to expect some real movement come January.  But if it's Newton, council may have more leverage than ever to demand MLB and the Rays put up some real cash if they want to break the terms of the deal they originally negotiated with the city in the 1990s.

A brief history of Times editorials on the Stadium Saga:
And a bevy of Bill-Foster bashing too: Oct. 2013 | Sept. 2013 | Sept. 2013 | Feb 2013 |Feb 2013 | Jan 2013 | Jan 2013 | Oct 2012 | April 2012
The history goes further back than that, but for a good synopsis, watch my 2010 piece on newspapers cheerleading for new stadium projects.

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  1. If Wheeler-Dealer Brown wins, nothing happens until January - that's too long of a wait to still be in limbo for the Rays.

    If Newton wins, then the price goes up for the Rays and they look to bolt even sooner.

    In other words, the election today will NOT be helping the Rays get out the dump known as the Trop any time soon.

  2. Does it really matter who wins? Either way it's a small-time politician with no leverage. The notional price tag for the Rays to explore outside St Pete is of little consequence.

    Will Sternberg agree to a higher price? NO

    Will Sternberg agree that there is a "pitch-perfect site" anywhere in Tampa / St Pete? NO

    Will FL or Sternberg pony up any money for a stadium? NO

    1. Exactly Giuseppe... there is one "pitch perfect" site - and it's located in the downtown core... it's called Bassin Peel.. oh yeah, and it's located 1,500 miles away from the Trop

  3. I see everyone is out voting to care about commenting here