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Rays, St. Pete continue relocation talks

Tampa Bay RaysDespite the St. Petersburg City Council rejecting a deal allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to negotiate throughout the region for a new ballpark, Mayor Rick Kriseman and team officials have launched a new round of negotiations.

The Rays had worked out a deal with Kriseman to search for a new ballpark site in both Hillsborough (where Tampa is located) and Pinellas (where St. Pete is located) counties. The City Council rejected that deal, but in a way that could allow for a new plan to be presented, per Fox Tampa Bay:

The Rays entitlements from any redevelopment of the current stadium property was a major sticking point, and (Kriseman’s) chief of staff Kevin King said that is the issue now being discussed.

In the meantime, the city council has scheduled a February workshop to discuss the possibility of building a new stadium in St. Petersburg, and councilman Jim Kennedy has a lot of questions.

“I want to make sure that we don’t…give them a road map out of the area as opposed to keeping them in the Tampa Bay area,” Kennedy told FOX 13 News. “My purpose of putting this together was to make sure that the discussion at our workshop would be more all-encompassing.”

The issue over redevelopment revenue may be relatively easy to address. But the general issue of moving when there are years left on the Tropicana Field lease, which runs through 2027, is a big one: with bonds on the facility set to be paid off in coming years, the lack of debt makes it easy to negotiate or buy a way out. But the fact is very few in St. Pete city government or MLB expect the Rays to be playing at the Trop through 2027; hence the moves in St. Pete to keep the team in the city.

RELATED STORIES: Most county-board candidates indicate support for new Rays ballpark in Tampa; Time running out on key Rays funding component; New year, new day for new Rays ballpark?; Foster: MLB looking for reason to flee Tampa Bay; 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

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