Stadium Issue to start Heating Up

 UPDATE:
 
 
Sorry, still under the weather a bit, but I did want to post something today. I just go in kind of shallow here today on some of the local stadium discussions by candidates trying to win the St. Petersburg Mayor race. This situation is far from over, but the issues and the banter is just starting to get going. Feeling better, but still got that Flu-like feeling hovering around me. Thank you to all that sent their wishes and chicken soup.
 

 

 

Today in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, the first of the mayorial canididates had a little debate about the Rays and their future involvement in the city of St. Petersburg.  Several of the upcoming mayor’s election candidates met at the Globe Coffee Shop to comment on the issue. As many people might not know, the Tampa Bay Rays Waterfront stadium issue has been put on the backburner right now and they have formed a blue-ribbon fact-finding committee to undertake the logistics of locations within the Pinellas county. Such sites as the Toytown dump site off of I-275 and Roosevelt Blvd, Also The St. Petersburg Sod Farm location at Gandy and I-275, and a  parcel of land near Derby Lane off of 4th Street and Gandy Blvd. Also under consideration is the present site of Tropicana Field just to the east of the current stadium.
 
 

This committee will make its recommendations this summer to the Rays and the St. Peterburg City Council. But in this impromptu arena, St. Petersburg mayor candidate Scott Wagman say he would not require the team to build within the St. Petersburg city limits. Wagman said he would like the Rays to stay in St. Petersburg, but that it is more important that team officials and community leaders come up with a location that will benefit the entire region and ensure the team a long future in the Tampa Bay area. He did say he would oppose plans to build a stadium on St. Petersburg’s historic waterfront.
 
 

 
Wagman’s position on the Rays’ controversial stadium stands in stark opposition to  current Mayor Rick Baker’s demand that the stadium be built in St. Petersburg.  In an article in The St Petersburg Times on January 13, 2009, Baker made his position known on any potential stadium clear: It’s only happening within the city limits. St. Petersburg City attorney John Wolfe sent a letter to A Baseball Community ( Baseball Consulting Group)  attorney Charlie Harris saying the city would only approve a stadium project within the city of St. Petersburg. (Wolfe also made clear the city has not taken a position whether or not to support a new stadium even within St. Petersburg).Wolfe also reminded the Rays that they are bound by an agreement to play Major League Baseball in the city until 2027. “Needless to say, the city would not even consider an amendment to the agreement for a venue outside of the city,” Wolfe wrote. 
 
 

 
During their coffee chatter, fellow St. Petersburg mayoral contender Deveron Gibbons just called Wagman’s position on possibly letting the Rays leave St. Petersburg “crazy.”  He also added to a St. Petersburg Times reporter, “That comment shows a complete lack of sensitivity for the folks who lived in the Gas Plant area and gave up so much to get baseball here,” Gibbons said, referencing the forced relocation of a predominantly African-American neighborhood to make way for what is now Tropicana Field. “The people that gave up so much, that means nothing to Scott Wagman?” Like Wagman, Gibbons said the waterfront should be off-limits to the Rays. But, Gibbons said, “we ultimately have to figure out how to keep the Rays here.”
 

 
Wagman isn’t taking Gibbons’ attack lightly. Wagman called the St. Petersburg Times to issue his response to Gibbon’s comments.” By insisting that the stadium be built in St. Petersburg, Gibbons and mayoral hopeful Jamie Bennett are making sure county taxpayers won’t be willing to help cover construction costs and St. Petersburg will be stuck with the tab,” Wagman said. “If you are not open to other things, if you are insisting upon St. Petersburg, why would other areas be interested in helping?” Wagman said. “It’s small-minded and imprudent.” Wagman did say the stadium should stay in Pinellas. He added that a new stadium won’t help African-Americans. Job creation will, he said.

 
 

 

 
As you can see the Rays situation for a future stadium might be making more headlines, and more heated mayorial conversations in the coming weeks because of the recent decision by Miami-Dade county commissioners to approve a financing package late Monday night for a $634 million stadium project for the Florida Marlins.  This puts the Rays and the Oakland Athletics as the only teams not have a new stadium plan in the works. It is considered that Major League Baseball may soon cast its eyes towrds Tampa Bay to see if they can be of help in the new stadium issue. But as you can see by statements made above by some of the St. Petersburg mayorial candidates, the city might be pushing the team to the side right now.
 

 
Officially, this deal has no direct impact in Tampa Bay.  But with the Florida Marlins getting their stadium situation done first, it takes them out of the MLB doghouse and firmly implants the Rays at least within MLB’s watchful eyes right now. But the Miami deal is not totally done in stone yet, Miami has to be  able to secure  the financial bonds needed to complete the project. but with those bonds secured, Tampa Bay and Oakland will graduate to the position of Major League Baseball’s neediest franchises.  but with the state of Florida pinching pennies right now to even come up with their state budget, could the Rays be out of luck for at least the next 5-10 years?
 

 
There will be more discussions and recommendations before all of this is said and done. But the centerpiece of this whole controversy has to be the Tampa Bay Rays remaining in the Pinellas county area. One of the sites listed above, Carillion Park is situated between two off ramps to I-275, and is within minutes of most places in Tampa. but the congestion of traffic and infrastructure might make the area deemed unfit for 81 games a year. There will be endless discussions and arguements over this project before it can finally find solution. But with the recent winning of the Rays, will these discussions have more of a quicker resolution, or will they still stay at a snails pace?
 
 
 
 
photo credits:  1) www.raysbaseball.com
                       2) Bobondrums@Flicker.com
 

8 Comments

Rays Renegade – firstly, I’m glad you’re feeling better and that you will be back to fighting form soon!

Don’t you love how politics can rear it’s ugly head no matter where we look! When will the election be held? Is one candidate in the lead? Getting that issue resolved would probably be the first step towards solving this problem. Do you have a sense of where the Rays might like to build and where do you think they should build? You always have great insight into these things! Thanks for the updates and keep getting better!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I usually get the flu, or a bad cold during the winter, but I guess I just “willed” it to be later this year. Still woozy, but I wanted to get back on and see what has been going on in the MLB-world.
Politics is great sometimes. I almost was going to follow that path, but saw a really bare-bones type of campaign once that shook the rafters in this area. I did not want that for me. I love the chatter and the promises that somehow disappear the day after they are elected.. But that is politics in the south, parlor talk and back yard promises.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rays RenegadeFirst of all, I’m glad you’re feeling better :) The flu can be really nasty! Secondly, while I’m glad the Twins are moving into a new ballpark, I’m not happy that my taxes are increasing to pay for it. I am not at all in favor of using public money to finance private interests, especially since the public gets to absorb the risk while the owners get to reap all of the reward (I don’t buy the argument that building a sports facility helps out the local economy, either. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary). However, if the alternative is to lose my favorite team (which is likely what will happen to the Vikings at this point), I guess I just have to accept it. It’s an awful catch-22 situation for sports fans that doesn’t really have an easy answer.-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

I agree.
And people forget that both the state and the team throw up walls that either are overcome, or they become final obstructions to logical decisions. This is far from over, and I truly think it will take at least another 5 years to come to a conclusion.
When the economy starts upwards, the public might see a light in the sky, but right now, all they see are dark stoem clouds.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Renegade – What is the major opposition to the waterfront location? On face value it seems like a good spot, as it would be replacing Al Lang. Is parking the main issue? Or something else?
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Glad to hear… or read… you’re getting over the flu. Unless you’re the Yankees, it seems that right now is a bad time to make any kind of long term and large financial decision. I guess the silver lining is that it won’t have a direct impact on the Rays, however, five to ten years is a long time.
Emily
http://deconstructingthoughts.mlblogs.com/

Back about 40 years ago the City of St Petersburg started to clean up down by the waterfront and started their series of parks and waterfront areas.
I think the main opponent to the waterfront called POWW “Protect Our Waterfront and Wallets” just wants to retain that splendor. But also they are against the public funding of a stadium of this magnitude.
It is just a political firebomb that if you take the wrong viewpoint, you will be crucified in the media.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

It is a long time, but with the financial climate, it might be a good period to wait until you thrust a money package under the publics nose.
But the Rays are reviewing other options, like putting on a retractable roof. This has been looked at before, but now that so mnay more building have these types of roofs, the technology has changed, so it might work out financially now.
We shall see.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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