SBD/October 30, 2013/Facilities

Selig To Intervene In Rays Ballpark Issue As St. Pete Talks Remain At Impasse

Sternberg's stadium negotations with St. Petersburg officials stalled in August
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "plans to talk soon" with Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg to "determine the next step" in the team's pursuit of a new ballpark, according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. St. Petersburg and team officials "had been talking and were believed to be close to a deal that would allow the Rays to consider potential sites in Tampa," but those talks "stalled in August." Selig on Saturday said that he "had not yet decided on appointing an emissary and hadn't yet plotted a course of action" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/27). In Tampa, Stephen Nohlgren cites a recent Tampa Bay Times poll as showing that 48% of St. Petersburg residents were "open to letting the Rays explore new stadium options all over the Tampa Bay area," with 39% opposed. Respondents "did not see stadium negotiations as the city's single most pressing issue." More important issues were "building a new pier, public safety and Midtown redevelopment." But the poll shows that the electorate is "keeping pace with city administrators as they evolve into a more nuanced position on the stadium." St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman said that they "expect negotiations with the team to recommence after the election" next Tuesday. In the poll, 38% of respondents "would let the team look in Hillsborough -- but only after the Rays and city negotiate some financial compensation." Another 10% of respondents "would allow a Hillsborough search without preconditions," but almost 40% said that the Rays "should stay" at Tropicana Field. African-American residents in particular "felt this way," with 52% "opposing any Tampa forays." Foster said that the goal is "to commit the Rays to the region beyond 2027, while protecting St. Petersburg's financial interests." Kriseman said that he "wanted to talk about beefing up Trop attendance before negotiating any potential move to Hillsborough" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/29).
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