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Ballpark pitch will be heard by St. Pete — but officials will not respond

Tampa Bay RaysSt. Petersburg will hear a pitch from a developer for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark, but the City Council won’t be allowed to speak and there will be no direct communication with any Rays employees.

Developer Darryl LeClair had requested the chance to lay out his proposal for a new Rays ballpark on a 12-acre site in the Carillon Business Park, located in the northern part of the city, but was stymied after some city officials said that any negotiating for a new Rays ballpark could inadvertently violate the team’s lease at Tropicana Field; Mayor Bill Foster has consistently threatened to sue the Rays for noncompliance if the team entered into talks with anyone else over a new ballpark. While the team ownership hasn’t indicated any inclination to move out of the greater Tampa Bay area, their position is that they should be free to look across the entire area — which would include downtown Tampa, of course — for a new facility.

So to maintain the sacred bond between tenant and landlord, LeClair will be allowed to pitch his plan, and the City Council has been advised not to speak, according to the Tampa Tribune:

The city’s attorney has asked council members to remain silent during the presentation by developer Cityscape LLC, fearing the Rays might exploit council comments to break their stadium agreement….

[John] Wolfe, the city attorney, asked council members to let Cityscape officials do all the talking at the upcoming presentation. “I don’t want us to be defending in court a conversation that starts down one road and then goes down another,” Wolfe said.

The resolution passed Thursday allows Cityscape to present its plan to the city council without being sued by the city for interfering in the stadium agreement. But it prohibits the developer from speaking directly with the Rays outside the council meeting.

No meeting has actually been scheduled.

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