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Down to wire for new Rays ballpark search

Tampa Bay RaysThe St. Petersburg City Council is unlikely to give the Tampa Bay Rays permission to search for a new ballpark in the region, meaning any new-facility efforts will likely be put off until the end of the 2015 season.

The Rays have been negotiating with St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman over the parameters of a lease change that would allow the team to search for a new-ballpark site; the current Tropicana Field lease doesn’t allow the team to launch such a search. The City Council has already rejected a previous agreement reached by Kriseman and the Rays, but this one is slightly different: it would stipulate that St. Pete would receive all revenues if the Trop site is redeveloped while the team is technically a tenant. The existing lease gives the team rights to half the revenue — revenue the Rays are willing to waive.

Still, that may not be enough for the five City Council members opposing any new-ballpark searches. And if there’s no new deal by the beginning of the season, the Rays and the city say they want to wait until of the end of the year to discuss new ballpark. From the Tampa Bay Times:

“If council gives feedback to the mayor that they’re receptive to the new agreement, he’ll bring it back,” said [chief of staff Kevin] King. “But that decision hasn’t been made. He’s still having conversations.”

But with less than two weeks remaining before opening day Monday, April 6, King admitted a deal may be delayed until the end of the 2015 baseball season in the fall.

“I would say neither the mayor nor the Rays have an interest in distracting from what’s happening on the field of play throughout the season,” he said.

RELATED STORIES: Sternberg: Rays still believe in Tampa Bay; Sternberg: Rays ballpark search will proceed; Rays, St. Pete continue ballpark relocation talks; 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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