Despite the insistence from St. Petersburg officials that the Tampa Bay Rays are barred from talking new ballpark with anyone else, Hillsborough County legal staff says they can enter talks whenever they want.
The legal decision really comes down to some basic contract law: since Hillsborough County (which includes Tampa) isn’t a party to the lease between the Rays and St. Pete for Tropicana Field — which contains provisions penalizing the Rays should ballpark parks ensue — St. Petersburg can’t really go after the county should talks ensue. Furthermore, if a new lease between Hillsborough County and the Rays includes money to cover any losses suffered by St. Pete — like paying off ballpark debt or replacing tax revenues — Hillsborough officials say that should cover any claims of harm and damage.
As you’d expect, St. Petersburg’s legal team disagrees. And this is why we have courts.
Now, no one expects discussions between Hillsborough County and the Rays to launch tomorrow. But St. Petersburg digging in its heels on the need for the Rays to play out the Trop lease through 2027 probably isn’t the best move, either: working to keep a tenant in a subpar facility for 15 years will not drive many fans to downtown St. Pete.
RELATED STORIES: 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; Rays propose Carillon Town Center site for ballpark
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.