I don’t live in the Tampa/St. Pete area, so it is hard for me to comment on the spectacle that has become the Tampa Bay Rays quest for a new ballpark. There are fights between the mayor and the franchise. There are fights between the mayor and his own city council. All the Rays want is a stadium more fan friendly and a location that will help it draw as many fans as possible. All the St. Pete mayor wants is for the Rays to stay where they are. It doesn’t necessarily sound like mutually exclusive viewpoints.
The process of trying to secure the Rays’ present and promote their future has been at times a volatile mixture of business, sport and politics. Their attendance issues are obvious and well chronicled. The team says they can’t continue operating in their current state and the mayor of St. Petersburg says he can’t let the team look outside the city for a new home. Recently, he has gone so far as to say that the team has not done a proper job promoting itself and that has led to the poor attendance. It almost seems like nuclear arms agreements have been reached easier than it is going to be to get the Rays a new ballpark. Hopefully progress has been made with St. Pete mayor Bill Foster at least agreeing to meet with the Rays ownership.
With the current state of the US economy and the strain that has been placed financially on local and state governments, it is hard for items like new ballparks to garner much support among voters or elected representatives. The Rays have been trying for a while to find a way to stay in the Tampa Bay area, but also become a more viable major league franchise. Is that possible? I don’t know but I get frustrated when I hear people say with conviction that it isn’t.