MLB Commissioner Bud Selig won’t participate in any Tampa Bay Rays ballpark talks at this time, saying new Mayor Rick Kriseman and Stuart Sternberg will take the lead.
Kriseman, who defeated incumbent Bill Foster earlier this month in the St. Petersburg mayoral race, is considered to be more open-minded about a move of the Rays than was hardliner Foster, who insisted the Rays play out their Tropicana Field lease. Talks between the city and the Rays have centered on some sort of buyout of the Tropicana Field lease, freeing the team to potentially leave for downtown Tampa and freeing St. Pete to redevelop the Tropicana Field site. The ballpark bonds are set to be paid off far in advance of the Tropicana Field lease ending.
Kriseman doesn’t actually take office until the beginning of 2014, so we’re talking about a little lull time in talks (and we’re guessing Foster has absolutely no interest in working out a deal as a lame duck). In the past Selig threatened to intervene in talks, but with the new mayor entering office, he now says he won’t be involved and will let the Rays and the city negotiate on their own, according comments made by Selig at the GM meetings this week in Orlando. From Tampa Bay Times:
Sternberg said he hopes to renew those talks soon with Rick Kriseman, who defeated Foster in the Nov. 5 mayoral election and will take office Jan. 2.
“I’ll speak with the new mayor now that he’s got a little time under his belt,” Sternberg said. “He’s got a lot of things to do to govern the city. Maybe that will help set some direction. I don’t imagine it will right off the bat, but it’ll be nice to be able to chat with him at a point. We’ve played some phone tag back and forth.”
Sternberg would not speculate on whether Kriseman’s victory would make a stadium agreement any more or less likely. “I don’t feel any differently,” he said. “Time is ticking. That is all.”
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