Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays stadium ’

St. Pete City Council to Decide Mayor’s and Rays Stadium Exploration Agreement

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I was sitting in a downtown Central Avenue wing and brew establishment with a view of Tropicana Field when the local news hounds blared the news the Rays future stadium site impasse between the City of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays had finally been resolved.

People around me were clinking glasses, hoisting glassware full of adult beverages while saluting the efforts and powers that be that there would finally be sun light at the end of this stadium tunnel.

imagesNot so fast friends, this announcement should not be time to openly celebrate. There will be stormy days ahead before all the fuss and bothered are cleaned away like a city street after an afternoon downpour.

Hidden from view to most of those here was the simple fact that even though Rays President Brian Auld and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman stood on stage ceremonially hand-in-hand on this day, the agreement, is simply words and totally moot until the “St. Pete 8” also known as the St. Petersburg City Council give their blessing or denials of the document.

images (1)Per the St. Petersburg City Charter, the City Council during their meeting cannot change the agreement’s parameters, alter the language or even suggest subtle or economic changes. The recent decision by Mayor Kriseman to postpone the planned Dec 11th vote on the agreement and rescheduling the vote for Dec 18th has merit.

The delay in the City Council vote will give Mayor Kriseman him and his staff 7 more days to educate and answer any stumbling blocks in regard to the financial or binding aspects of letting the Rays explore Hillsborough County for a possible Rays stadium site, and the city’s financial rewards if the Rays do chose another locale for their stadium.

images (2)Some might view this as a simple delay tactic, but the Dec 11th City Council meeting’s agenda was already stuffed to the gills with awards and presentations from the city and quite possibly this agreement vote would overshadow some of the deeds and accomplishment of others.

Also, the Dec 11th City Council meeting would not have on their agenda a time set for public comment or interaction. The Dec 18th meeting will adhere to Florida state law that requires the public to have a say( voice) in an item that hasn’t and will not receive any public vetting.

Auld when asked by the Tampa Bay Times about the voting delay stated, “We don’t mind waiting another week. We’ve been working on this for a very long time. We hope to get to yes when the time comes.”

images (4)To the Rays credit, they have reached out to St. Pete City Council member Karl Nurse who was a member of the Protect Our Wallets and Waterfront (POWW) group that was a thorn in the Rays side when the team wanted to put a stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront area where historic Progress Energy /Al Lang Field is located.

downloadSo fellow Rays fans, let’s all wait a spell before raising our glasses to any positive resolve or advancement for the Rays being able to look Tampa Bay-wide for a new home.

For until the St. Petersburg City Council give tally their respective votes and a resolution is announced, the Mayor’s agreement with the Rays right now is simply “written in the sand”  and the whole positive step by the Rays and Mayor Kriseman could still be washed away thanks to an unforeseen public tidal wave, or the St. Petersburg 8 voting against the present agreement.

 

 

 

 

While Miami Celebrates, Tampa Bay Sits Wondering

I was visibly upset last night as I watched the Miami Marlins open their new state-of-the-art retractable roof stadium. It seemed like the journey for new baseball digs in our state started between our two respective teams about the same time. Where the Marlins have found favorable loopholes and provisional political help, the Tampa Bay Rays gave into a small local based group that did not have the votes to condemn their project or a Mayor who played the legal card much to the scoffs and chagrin of all involved.

Maybe I am a bit overly jealous that the Miami community and the (then Florida) Marlins found a way to fortify financially and as a unified community and get their alabaster white monument completed and looking simply amazing even before the Rays break ground on their own casa. I truly envy the South Florida community for getting things done, proving that baseball deserves to be in this great state at its highest level, and providing new and innovative fun for their fan base and (hopefully) promote a emphasis of growth for a future Rays home.

Of course my mood is irritated largely by the honest fact I still believe the Tampa Bay Rays could of/should of had their own “christening” in 2012. Over the last 4 seasons the plight of a future Rays home has eroded and been a  huge community sore spot, but that was not always the case.

I remember standing in Centerfield of Progress Energy Field at the end of the Rays 2008 Spring Training home schedule straddling the make-shift proposed batter’s box and imagining Carlos Pena taking a looping swing into an invisible breaking ball that would eventually disappear into afterglow of the distant Pier.

I was excited and glad to be among the crowd when Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg stood at a podium downtown and announced the future home of the Rays would be nestled among the glass masterpieces growing skyward in the St. Petersburg, Florida downtown and would feature a radically designed sail roof designs and the emphasis for a vibrant and renewed nightlife in this sleepy hamlet.

This was about the same time the South Florida region began their own journey towards building a new fish tank for the Marlins with emmenities and features unheard of in a baseball stadium.

I was extremely envious last night as the television crews spoke of the special touches in and around the new Miami digs. The Bobblehead Museum idea was so awesome it still makes me chuckle. The fish tank behind Home Plate where people sitting in those expensive seats can thrust their camera phones or Canon lenses up close to the tropical fish and snap off a photo through the glass getting a special “up-close and personal photo op with their favorite Marlin as he strides towards the batter’s box.

Dang you POWW for your “David versus Goliath” moment making Sternberg cave and pull the entire downtown stadium and Tropicana Field redevelopment project off the table, sail and all to be stuffed into some darkened Trop. cubbyhole possibly forever. I was a part of the “Let’s Build the Ballpark” movement that never could get firm traction to move the POWW machine into a deep pothole. Even today we are as close to a new stadium now as we were in 2008, and that is totally disheartening. If the stadium proposal had even gotten to a city-wide vote…well you know which lever I would have pulled.

It especially bothers me that the Marlins will have a chance to host an future All-Star Game now while the Rays know in their present home, the event will never materialize. The only joy I had last night was knowing the rest of the Nation did not have a chance to laugh and put down this state while watching that fluorescent circus act the Marlins are calling a Home Run Celebration nestled above Centerfield.

I am tired of the Rays current “wait and see” attitude. After seeing “what could have been”, it is time to thump out “what could be” and get at least a iota of forward motion towards Tampa Bay having their own National moment at their own new pristine baseball palace. Unfortunately I think when the ball stopped rolling in 2008, the Rays lost all momentum and motion towards finding a solution. The stadium presently is like a sailboat with no wind, destined to sit idle until the seaward winds kick up.

I got to see Marlins Park under construction in 2011 when I was in the area transporting cars for Google.  Boggles the mind this stadium is completed and the Tampa Bay facility is not even on the proverbial drawing board. I sit here watching the roof peeled back like a sardine can with a glimpse of the moon looking in and throughly wishing it was nestled along the waterfront of St. Petersburg.

I am not totally cruel tonight. I do applaud the Marlins and their ownership for building a facility that makes so many of the grand baseball stadiums built over the last 15 years tremble with the interesting technology innovations and fan-based treats nestled beneath the stadium’s glistening white retractable roof. I know there were hard decisions, rough moments surrounding the planning, building and primping of this space, but all has turned out simply magnificent. The Miami region radiated a glow into downtown sky accented by the open roof and the light flowing out into the warm Florida air.

Meanwhile in downtown St. Petersburg a tract of land once deemed the future home of the Rays stadium sits darkened and decaying. The Rays stadium movement seems stalled in the sugar sands of the local political arena, washing away any realization or hope of a new Rays stadium within the next 5-7 years….if ever. But tonight another region, who started their own quest for a new stadium gets to drink in the National praise and good tidings. If the presentation of the new Miami facility doesn’t stir the Rays punchbowl enough to get some Rays stadium momentum stirring, maybe nothing will.

Tick Tock Mayor Foster, Tick Tock!

I was reading an editorial today posted in the St. Petersburg Times website about the ongoing stalemate or strong arm maneuvers that have begun to permeate, and not with a great aroma from the St. Petersburg Mayor’s office.

I originally voted for Bill Foster as the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida because of his background working within the city structure even as the Florida Suncoast Dome was just a blueprint of the baseball future of this region. I really felt he had the heart and the soul figured out of the Tampa Bay Rays and their pursuit of a more feasible and fiscal future abode.

In his campaigning I thought I saw a Mayor who would embrace the Rays and each would walk a path towards enlightenment and harmony. Instead I’m now beginning to visualize more ands more daily an increasing sense of that regrettable small town insecurity that St. Petersburg, Florida has always fought with their cousins across the bay…Tampa.

Somehow Mayor Foster has embraced this insecurity like someone trying to steal his only child, refusing even a remote thought or a single word enter his ears of a possibility of the Rays moving from their home. For some reason Mayor Foster has been mute and vampant to even discussing the whole situation, and the ?Rays are growing tired of the silent treatment.

Some say the city of St. Pete has a lot to lose if the team explores outside its city limits, but in the Nation-wide scheme of things, St. Petersburg is looking selfish, arrogant and showing itself like a unbridled horses backside. This is the politician I elected into office, if he persists, his reign will be short and sweet.

There are other who are of the opinion that Mayor Foster is hedging his bets that the Rays finally drive across the city limits and violate his sacred trust. Litigation, bold judicial actions and even a bit of the old Florida back room politics of the past have reared their ugly head. This is not the progression or the tactics I expected from Foster. This is the work of a man with nothing to lose but his entire political career.

If he stops the Rays from crossing that imaginary line he will be toasted and held in high esteem by some in this community, but that same group is not the one flocking to Tropicana Field. The corporations in St. Petersburg have kept a low profile knowing a war is on the horizon, and will pick their battle mates after the first volley. I have a sneaking suspicion Mayor Foster will get the full Custer effect when his deep pocket allies finally fall on their own swords.

People are forgetting this Rays stadium fiasco is making our region look small time. It is making some within Major League Baseball wince and shutter at the possibility they even discussed a team in this region. It is making Mayor Foster MLB Public Enemy Number 1 without vocalizing it.

The city of St. Petersburg’s leverage on the Rays decreases with every tick of the clock, but why would the city bank on the fact the Rays would have to pay a penalty or even forgo some extra monetary damages if they trek across the bay. Don’t you think the Rays have not already got that same ideal prioritized, itemized and realized?

You think the team is going to wait until 2027 before hopping in a car and crossing the Howard Franklin? Really? You think the Rays have no done their homework already on any possible Hillsborough sites, and the fiscal collateral damage it could commit with even a public comment?

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg has been kind. He has not put a line in the sand, a proverbial “this needs to happen” speech out for all to hear, but it’s coming. Even the recent comments by his second in command, Rays President Matt Silverman and his First Sergeant Rays Manager Joe Maddon have not fallen on deaf ears outside the Mayor’s office.

The St. Petersburg City Council have heard enough to become worried, have heard enough to become banded and united in trying to stop the bleeding before the Rays amputate St. Petersburg from their stadium site list. The City Council have finally been made aware of the stalemate and chess match Mayor Foster is playing is becoming closer and closer to a “checkmate”.

The Rays are putting a great product on the field this season with their limited financial resources. The money pit, known as Tropicana Field, has seen millions of dollars poured into its inner core trying to revitalize a dying stadium. The structure is seeping into the Florida landscape, the building is starting to gasp and wheeze, it is beginning it final stages of sustaining MLB life.

I love Tropicana Field for what it has brought me personally over it lifetime. I enjoy games still sitting under its Teflon roof. I understand the need for more viable control over expenses and a possible freedom to re-invent the baseball stadium as we know it. By utilizing the newest technology trapping and possibly including a convention center to keep the money flow constant.

Mayor Foster can be commended for his due diligence in not bending or breaking to public opinions or scrutiny in this situation, but it is time to let a little civic pride go and try and work this out like a civilized community. Maybe it is a time for a unified “Kumbaya” moment, a civic awakening that if we falter here, the team is already headed for greener pastures.

I remember watching the video in college of the Mayflower moving vans backing up to old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, packing all the equipment, taking every last memory and ounce of civic pride with them before their trek to a town in the bowels of Indiana.

St. Petersburg doesn’t deserve that kind of legacy. Mayor Foster doesn’t want to be remembered as the man with too much civic pride to even dance with the Rays on this stadium situation before the clock runs out. The St. Petersburg City Council finally awoke from their hibernation concerning this issue, hopefully not too late to stop a journey over the bridge. Tick Tock Mayor Foster, Tick Tock!

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster is Eager to Chat with the Rays

 

If you have viewed the any of the three attached Youtube videos, then you might be with me that the City of St. Petersburg and its new Mayor Bill Foster are totally on board with speaking and discussing the Tampa Bay Rays future in the St. Petersburg surrounding community. We all know that sometimes the local media (Tampa Tribune) can show their own one-side response and closed-end stories relating to this pressing Tampa Bay issue. So it was refreshing to see on a St. Pete TV video taken during the April 15th session of the St. Petersburg City Council meeting that Mayor Foster was more than eager on video that he is “willing to work with the Rays as a partner” on the stadium issue.


And Mayor Foster and his City Council are well within their collective rights and civic responsibilities to take a bit of a breather and wait for the Rays to finish their current goals, then approach the Rays to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Mayor Foster showed great vision by saying the support for this team needs to be “regional” and not just localized within his city limits. And I loved Mayor Foster’s comment that ” no one here is the bad guy”, because in most of the media reports floating out there in Internet land from the Tampa-based side of the bay seems to place blame upon the City of St. Petersburg as being mute and deaf towards the Rays. We now know that notion to be a fable.

These videos show that Mayor Foster is more than receptive to having any type of discussions with the Rays on finding a suitable stadium resolution, but Mayor Foster also understands the Rays current code of silence as the team’s main focus is their pursuit of another American League East title, and hopefully more this season. And Mayor Fosters statement of supporting the Rays projects shows a distinctive positive open line of communications between the Rays, the St. Petersburg City Council, and Mayor Foster.

On the videos, you see that the City of St. Petersburg does respect the Rays organization fully and wants to keep a open level of dialogue with the Rays, plus are totally open to the notion of waiting until the end of the 2010 season before beginning serious Rays discussions. The City of St. Petersburg has somehow been viewed as the “bad guy” in this situation by not initially showing positive support for the non-binding findings of the ABC (A Baseball Community) Coalition because of their insistence in providing stadium options outside the city limits of St. Petersburg for a potential Rays future stadium.

The Coalition’s original mission statement was to seek inner St. Petersburg city location options to propose to the Rays organization, not venture out into other Tampa Bay locales. ABC Coalition took it upon itself to deviate from the original mission statement. The ABC Coalition final report is a volatile political firestorm that is mired in procedural potholes and fiscal limitation traps that could have condemned any talks between the Rays and St. Petersburg in an early effort to discuss the options based on the ABC Coalitions deviation from their original mission.

Because of the ABC groups refusal to follow the city’s set parameters, it instantly isolated the City of St. Petersburg to show plausible and viable local options within the city, and has been played out by opposing media segments as a convoluted and inaccurate portrayal of the city’s real intentions to ever consult with the Rays. Even though the ABC Coalition was first devised ,and originated in cooperation with former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, the ABC Coalition quickly took on a life of its own and veered way off course from the initial protocol to explore local St. Petersburg Rays stadium locations.


And by the City of St. Petersburg staying silent for so long on the final ABC’s findings, the City of St. Petersburg became the instant political scapegoat for organizations wanting to point a finger at a governmental agency in regards to the Rays stadium situation. By Mayor Foster’s own words, he spoke candidly that he ” can not make the Rays come to the table right now because they are busy trying to win a Pennant”. The past media reports illustrating the city of St. Petersburg collectively sitting on their hands or with their hands across their mouths has been greatly exaggerated, but that might just be the political climate right now to remain calm, cool and collected until the Rays make their next move..

By Mayor Foster saying he wants to ” assure their (the Rays) success not only on the field, but off the field.” It might be the first time we have heard an “official” voicing by a member of the City of St. Petersburg’s administration on the whole Rays stadium situation since the ABC debacle. But I really like the last segment of the third video where Mayor Foster stated that the “focus ( of the Rays) right now was to win a Pennant, and the focus of the day for us (City of St. Petersburg) is to demonstrate our commitment by getting fans in the seats.” You can bet there are a few Rays Front Office grins from ear-to-ear after hearing that wisdom coming from City Council chamber within the St. Petersburg City Hall.

I have to be honest that I really felt the City of St. Petersburg might have been stonewalling the Rays in regards to the whole Rays stadium endeavor. But the videos show that the City of St. Petersburg, and their Mayor are actually letting the Rays conduct their business currently at hand, before diluting and separating the stadium situation possibly as soon as after the 2010 season. That is the first real solid vocal evidence we have seen that the City of St. Petersburg is not tone deaf to the idea of a possible stadium, but also the first real vocal acknowledgment of open dialogue towards talking with the Rays.

Kudos to Mayor Foster for saying these thoughts during a City Council meeting. It is about time that the Rays Republic hears something besides the other side of Tampa Bay arguing and posturing for a potential Rays stadium. It shows there is an open invitation by the city for the Rays to sit down again with Mayor Foster and begin to hash out segments of the stadium situation in a positive vein. One of the reason I voted for Foster as our next St. Petersburg Mayor was his stark talk about keeping this team in our community. Another reason I voted for him was that he had a plan of having this entire Tampa Bay community co-exist with the Rays still situated within the city limits of St. Petersburg.


Most people forget that the land situated just off of I-275 and Ulmerton Road at the Southern mouth of the Howard Franklin bridge towards Tampa is within the city limits of St. Petersburg. It is one of the three ABC Coalition Rays stadium proposed sites. With the positive response by the St. Petersburg Mayor in these videos by showing his earnest desire to meet with the Rays, and hopefully secure a bright and productive future with the Rays remaining still within his fair city limits.

Some people within the St. Petersburg community had thought that Mayor Foster was tiptoeing this issue recently, or trying to hide it until later in the Rays season. These videos clearly show that St. Petersburg is granting the Rays space so that they can accomplish their seasonal goals, then both the City of St. Petersburg and the Rays can get down to business of securing the future of this team for the entire Tampa Bay regional community. I love it when I back the right (political) horse.
 

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