A St. Petersburg City Council member says the Tampa Bay Rays should be allowed to talk to other cities in the region about a new ballpark — but only after paying a $1.4 million fee, and without assurances the current Tropicana Field lease could be ended.
The fee wouldn’t allow the Rays to leave the Trop before the lease ends in 2027; the fee as proposed by Charles Gerdes would only give the Rays permission to talk with other government bodies about a new ballpark. Breaking the lease would require additional negotiations, and any talks would need to include a since-dropped proposal to build a new ballpark at St. Pete’s Carillon Business Park.
“My primary intention is for St. Petersburg and Pinellas County investors to be able to have those kinds of talks with the Rays,” Gerdes said. “And if the Rays want to look into Hillsborough, which they don’t have permission to do today, we get something in return.”
But the proposal would not release the Rays from their commitment to play at Tropicana Field through 2027 nor let them negotiate to play at another site sooner. If the Rays found another site, they would still have to then negotiate with the city to break their lease.
“It gives them permission to look, not leave,” Gerdes said.
The beauty of the proposal: it takes Mayor Bill Foster, an absolutist when it comes to keeping the Rays in Tropicana Field, out of the equation. If this payment is included in a contract amendment, then Foster has no say (i.e., a veto) over the change.
No reaction from the team or other city officials. Still, there are some in the city who see the inevitability of the Rays negotiating within the region for a new home — the issue is putting a price on the transaction.
RELATED STORIES: Sternberg: MLB doesn’t beiieve in Tampa Bay; Rays ballpark plan at Carillon Business Park withdrawn by developer; Study: New Rays ballpark shouldn’t require new taxes; Poll: St. Pete voters opposed to public financing of new ballpark; Foster: We won’t allow Rays to talk new ballpark in Tampa; Experts: St. Petersburg should worry about making Rays deal now, not damages down the road; St. Pete ratchets up legal threats over new Rays ballpark; Is a business park the best place for a Rays ballpark?; More land assembled for new Rays ballpark?; Rays propose ballpark talks after Trop situation worked out; Abundance of riches: Another new ballpark pitched for Rays; LeClair unveils intriguing ballpark plan for Rays; Rays: We’ll listen to St. Pete ballpark pitch; Letter: Rays can talk new ballpark — but only for St. Pete location; Ballpark pitch will be heard by St. Pete — but officials will not respond; Parking huge issue for proposed Rays ballpark site; Pinellas County, private investor want to pitch Rays, St. Pete on ballpark plan; Rays: We’ll talk new ballpark with Hillsborough County; Hillsborough County: Nothing legally bars us from talking new ballpark with Rays; Newly available land parcel could bring downtown Tampa ballpark — maybe; Immigration funds eyed for new Rays ballpark; Oakland contemplates foreign investments to help fund A’s ballpark; Hillsborough County ready to make run at new Rays ballpark; Rays: Prove to us Tampa Bay can support baseball; Could this be the year for a new Rays ballpark?; Regional ballpark authority pitched for Tampa Bay; Mayor, council differ on approach to Rays ballpark issue;Tampa: We could have $100M for new Rays ballpark; Yet another group seeks to break Rays ballpark logjam; St. Pete mayor: there’s nothing wrong with the Trop; Tampa, St. Pete business leaders combine forces for new Rays ballpark; Could Rays declare bankruptcy to escape Trop lease?; Tampa Sports Authority declines to participate in Rays ballpark talks — for now; Chamber to take up Rays ballpark cause; Pinellas County extends hotel tax — but not enough for new Rays ballpark; Selig still “concerned” about Rays ballpark situation; Pinellas County mulls hotel-tax extension for new Rays ballpark; Rays: No, we’re not interested in limiting ballpark search to St. Pete; Can Tampa Bay support MLB?; St. Pete officials now say Trop is replaceable — at a price; Potential new player emerges in Rays ballpark battle; Rays: Time to talk new ballpark again; Rays ballpark brawl: Tampa versus St. Pete; Three Rays ballpark sites recommended by committee; New Rays ballpark discussion shifts to Tampa;Group: Any new Rays ballpark needs retractable roof; Group: Renovating Trop isn’t option in keeping Rays; Rays task force may have prelim recommendations by June — but no site
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at email@example.com.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.