Hillsborough, Pinellas Counties Not Coordinating Amid Rays Ballpark Competition
There has been "zero coordination" between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as they "compete to build the Rays a new ballpark, even disagreeing on informal ground rules to prevent a bidding war," according to Noah Pransky of Tampa-based WTSP-CBS. Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said that he has "worked with the team to narrow a list of sites down to 'one or two' that would connect Tampa's Channelside, and Ybor neighborhoods." Hagan also said that the county's bankers in N.Y. have been "meeting with the Rays' banking team" to discuss ballpark financing, possibly a "bigger challenge for the region than finding an appropriate site." That conflicts with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, whose city resides in Pinellas County, saying that he "hopes to avoid a competition between Hillsborough and Pinellas." St. Petersburg has been "meeting with the Rays privately as well and seems to hold a distinct advantage over Hillsborough County when it comes to available funding streams" for a new ballpark. Kriseman has also been "bullish on the possibility" of a new ballpark next to the existing ballpark, so redevelopment at the Tropicana Field site "could help fund the project." Kriseman said that he "hoped both counties would then rally around the chosen site and hope the financing fell into place." Kriseman: "We’re not getting into a bidding war because that doesn’t do any of us any good" (WTSP.com, 1/10). In Tampa, Janelle Irwin noted the Rays have been "very quiet about plans." Last summer, the team put out a survey "asking where fans wanted their team and listed possibilities in four areas." While a "narrowed list shows progress in Hagan’s quest" for MLB in his county, he is still "frustrated with the time frame." Even with a short list in mind, he "expects anything public is still a couple months off" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/10).