St. Petersburg Mayor Goes Public With Pessimism On Rays Ballpark Talks
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster yesterday in a memo to the City Council wrote MLB does not "seem interested in a cooperative effort to keep the Rays in the Tampa Bay Region for the long term," according to Mark Puente of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Foster in the memo updated the council on negotiations to allow the team to "look at stadium sites outside the city limits as long as St. Petersburg taxpayers are protected in the deal." Foster wrote, "It has become apparent to me that Major League Baseball has no intention of assisting the city and Rays in reaching a mutually beneficial solution." Foster told council members he is committed to more talks but "cannot and will not support an outcome that is primarily at the public's expense." Puente notes the sticking points "seem to center around how much the team would pay the city for leaving early and to demolish Tropicana Field." Foster's declaration comes three weeks after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that the "slow pace of the talks might prompt him to intervene in the discussions." The mayor's memo yesterday "took the team by surprise." The stalemate is "likely to become a central theme in the Nov. 5 mayoral election." Foster's challenger, Rick Kriseman, has said that Foster "hasn't showed enough leadership in solving the stadium issue." Council member Charlie Gerdes said that he "doubts Foster is allowing politics to seep into the talks, though he thinks it would help Foster politically to get a deal done before November" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/5).
CITY OF ANGELS: Angels President John Carpino yesterday said that the team would "use a three-year extension on the opt-out of its current stadium lease to explore ways to remain in Anaheim, not bolt." Carpino: "We're hopeful a deal can be made and we can stay in Anaheim for many years to come. We want to be part of a community and deliver a high-quality fan experience." In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna notes Carpino "would not comment when asked whether team officials have held discussions with other cities." But he said that the team "has begun to explore whether it would be more cost-efficient" to spend $130-150M required to update and upgrade Angel Stadium, or $600-700M to "build a stadium adjacent to the current one or on another site" (L.A. TIMES, 9/5). Carpino yesterday said that it is "only a matter of time before an agreement is reached on an extended lease and renovations to Angel Stadium." In California, Jeff Fletcher notes negotiations are "expected to be completed by the end of the year." Carpino said that the ballpark "needs a lot of work to keep it up to date." Carpino: "We want to improve the concession stands. We want to improve the wifi. With society today and fans, and so much social networking going on, we have to be cognizant of that. If we get the concessions and food and wifi, that's a good start. Then you start looking bigger picture" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/5).