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Foster: MLB looking for reason to flee Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay RaysNot only do MLB owners want to see the Tampa Bay Rays leave Tropicana Field, they want to see the team leave Tampa Bay completely, according to outgoing St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

As mayor, Foster led a dogged fight to ensure the Rays play out their entire lease at Tropicana Field, which runs through 2027. The Rays ownership negotiated for the right to search for another ballpark site in the area, but Foster declared them a failure while in the midst of a tough releection battle, which he ultimately lost. (The more cynical amongst us would say Foster was for a regional search when he thought it would be politically advantageous and dropped it when wasn’t.) With his final days at hand, Foster is now on the offensive, saying MLB isn’t bargaining in good faith when it comes to keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay, per the Tampa Bay Times:

“I don’t think there’s anything in the equation that causes Major League Baseball to want to stay in Pinellas County,” Foster said.

The outgoing mayor also was negative about the future of Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay region — especially Tampa, where Mayor Bob Buckhorn has made it no secret that he covets the team if the Rays somehow negotiate an exit from the contract binding them to Tropicana Field.

“I’m not convinced that Major League Baseball sees the Tampa Bay market as one that is sustainable for Major League Baseball,” Foster said.

Foster would be more believable if there was a market waiting for an MLB team. But there isn’t: former contenders like Charlotte and Las Vegas have fallen by the wayside, and while we think MLB will eventually return to Montreal, it won’t happen any time soon. Really, the best open market for MLB is New Jersey, and there’s no way the Yankees or Mets would allow another team in their market. So, realistically, the Rays are stuck in Tampa Bay.

RELATED STORIES: Residents: Let Rays buy out Trop lease, move to Tampa; Selig: No updates on Rays ballpark situation; Rays: We won’t buy out Trop lease on St. Pete’s terms; St. Pete mayor: Talks with Rays going poorly; Poll: little support for public funding of new Rays ballpark; Feeding frenzy begins on siting potential Rays ballpark; Selig: Time to resolve Tama Bay Rays ballpark situation; Negotiations begin: Tampa asks for at least $200M from Rays for new ballpark; Hillsborough County ready to talk new Rays ballpark; Sternberg: No plan to move Rays; Downtown tax for new Rays ballpark looking iffy; Sternberg: MLB doesn’t believe in Tampa Bay; Rays ballpark plan at Carillon Business Park withdrawn by developer; Study: New Rays ballpark shouldn’t require new taxes; Poll: St. Pete voters opposed to public financing of new ballpark; Foster: We won’t allow Rays to talk new ballpark in Tampa; Experts: St. Petersburg should worry about making Rays deal now, not damages down the road; St. Pete ratchets up legal threats over new Rays ballpark; Is a business park the best place for a Rays ballpark?


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