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St. Pete mayor: Talks with Rays going poorly

Tmapa Bay RaysSt. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, tied up in a tight reelection battle, says talks between his office and the Tampa Bay Rays over Tropicana Field lease are not going well — and blames MLB for the impasse.

In a report to the City Council, Foster took aim at the commissioner’s office as he declared talks are at a standstill, primarily over the issue of a payout of the Tropicana Field lease. From the Tampa Bay Times:

“It has become apparent to me that Major League Baseball has no intention of assisting the city and Rays in reaching a mutually beneficial solution,” Foster wrote in a memo to the council. “Nor does Major League Baseball seem interested in a cooperative effort to keep the Rays in the Tampa Bay Region for the long term.”…

Sticking points seem to center around how much the team would pay the city for leaving early and to demolish Tropicana Field….

“It is unfortunate and unproductive in so many ways that Mayor Foster chose now to publicly describe our conversations,” according to a statement from Rays officials. “We have remained silent about the details of our discussions and we will have no further comment today.”

Foster and the Rays laid out a process for releasing the Rays from a lease provision preventing the team from talking to other municipalities, with the assumption that there would be a paydown of Tropicana Field bonds (scheduled to paid off in the next few years). The talks have centered on the paydown.

Now, in the ebb and flow of multimillion-dollar negotiations, there will always be a moment where it looks like things are stalled, giving both sides a chance to regroup. Foster has been a hardline negotiator for years when it comes to the Rays, and we all know how stubborn Selig can be. So before we all start running around in circles, wildly waving our hands, let’s give this negotiating process a chance to unfold. Getting out of the Tropicana Field lease is just the opening salvo in what’s sure to be a long war toward a new Rays ballpark.

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