St. Pete Mayor Rejects Rays' Request To Explore Stadium Sites Outside City
The rift over a new ballpark for the Rays “deepened Friday when [St. Petersburg] Mayor Bill Foster rejected the team's request to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough County,” according to Mark Puente of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Foster, in a letter to Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg, wrote that the “only way to preserve the city's interests is not to let the team look for stadiums outside St. Petersburg or the Pinellas Gateway area.” The Rays have “a written agreement to play 1,215 more regular season games at Tropicana Field.” Foster added that besides offering the “excitement of baseball, the team is an employer, economic driver and a tourist draw for the city.” Foster's letter is a “response to Sternberg seeking permission to explore stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.” Sternberg said that he would consider a plan for a proposed stadium in the Carillon Business Park in St. Petersburg "only if the team could also look outside the city.” He also “offered to give the city veto power on any location.” Sternberg said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Foster's letter. Puente noted the “stalemate between the city and team has grown ever since the Rays' waterfront stadium proposal fizzled in 2008” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/27). In Tampa, Marc Topkin wrote MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “hadn't spoken with” Sternberg, but “his frustration with Foster's decision seemed obvious.” Selig said, "There's work to be done there, and he ought to try to be helpful and constructive in that process. That's all I'll say” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/28). MLB.com’s Steven Miller noted the Rays “continue to struggle to draw fans” and Selig “seemed disappointed by the trend.” Selig: "I'll let you draw your own conclusion. I think it's a conclusion that's pretty obvious” (MLB.com, 10/26).