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St. Pete officials now say Trop is replaceable — at a price

With Rays officials quietly floating the names of future homes outside Tampa Bay to the media, St. Petersburg officials now say they would be interested in working on a replacement to Tropicana Field — one not necessarily located in downtown St. Pete. Let the horse trading begin.

As a proxy for business and political leaders, the local chamber of commerce is usually a pretty good one, usually staking out turf where politicians dare not tread.

So for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to float a scenario where new Rays ballpark could be built outside of downtown St. Pete. In a letter to the mayor and after discussions with Rays ownership, the chamber says the current 85-acre Tropicana Field site should be redeveloped (even if a new ballpark is not part of the mix) and a new ballpark built for the Rays. 

That undercuts the city's argument that the Rays should play at the Trop until the end of the team's lease. Rays ownership argues that the domed facility is economically outmoded and that the future of the franchise in the area depends on a new facility.

And while the chamber still rejects a move of the Rays to Tampa — a more accessible location for most of the population in the region — they've now set a price for the team pursuing a ballpark closer to Tampa: a move of spring training back to downtown St. Pete. We're not sure whether than means a renovated Al Lang Field or what, but let's face it — important forces in St. Pete are now contemplating a Rays' move away from Tropicana Field. What's now being negotiated: the terms. 

RELATED STORIES: 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; Rays propose Carillon Town Center site for ballpark

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