St. Petersburg Mayor Says Regional Support Is Key To Keeping Rays
The question is "no longer whether Tropicana Field is a viable stadium" for the Rays, as St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said yesterday the team now has questions about the "ability of the region to support baseball," according to Michael Van Sickler of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Foster in the wake of Tuesday's "much-anticipated meeting with team officials" said, "It wasn't a question of St. Petersburg or Tampa. ... That was the most striking thing about this conversation. Tropicana Field, and whatever its deficiencies, never came up." Van Sickler notes the Rays are "contractually obligated" to play at Tropicana Field through '27. Foster yesterday on WQYK-AM said, "There are huge questions about Tampa Bay's ability to support three professional sports franchises. That was a point that was made when I left there." He also noted that the "best immediate strategy for keeping the team is fan support," adding that he and Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg on Tuesday "discussed how to better market the team." Foster: "If the region wants the Rays to stay in the region, then Tampa Bay needs to support this team this year by putting their backsides in the seat and going to the game." Sternberg said that he "'had to defend' the Rays' marketing efforts during his meeting with the mayor, but quickly added that Foster thought the club was doing a fine job marketing." Foster yesterday said he was "absolutely satisfied" with the Rays' marketing efforts. He added that the city "will help market the team, and later, on WQYK, said that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also agreed to help" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/19).