Not So Fast on the Rays Stadium Compromise

For a while, it appeared as though progress was finally being made in the Rays quest for a new stadium. After years of having their efforts seemingly stonewalled by St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster, and his refusal to negotiate with the Rays, Foster had appeared to relent. He mentioned that he may be willing to accept that the Rays would need to leave Tropicana Field, and potentially move to Tampa.

Now, it seems that Foster may have changed his mind. In a message to the St. Petersburg City Council, he stated his reservations about Major League Baseball being willing to assist either the city or the Rays in reaching a compromise. At this point, it is believed that the biggest issue may be the financial compensation given to the city for the Rays to break their lease.

“It has become apparent to me that Major League Baseball has no intention of assisting the city and Rays in reaching a mutually beneficial solution,” Foster wrote in a memo to the council. “Nor does Major League Baseball seem interested in a cooperative effort to keep the Rays in the Tampa Bay Region for the long term.”

It is certainly understandable that Foster is looking to protect the investment that St. Petersburg put forth in the construction of Tropicana Field. It is also understandable that Foster is looking to get the best deal possible for his city in order to allow the Rays to explore other options in the area. However, by accusing Bud Selig and Major League Baseball of standing the the way of an equitable solution that benefits all parties involves, it may be possible that Foster is causing more harm than good in this dispute.

Should the Rays move to the Tampa area, it could actually benefit St. Petersburg. By having the Rays in an area that could have hotels and restaurants built around a new stadium, the entire region could benefit from a potential influx of jobs and people travelling to the area. A team with stars such as Evan Longoria and David Price, as well as burgeoning starts like Wil Myers and Matt Moore, deserves to have the support of the region. Yet, should Foster stand in the way and Selig get involved in the discussion, it may not end well for the Rays in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa region deserves a chance to prove that they can support the Rays. Unfortunately, Bill Foster may not let that happen.

Topics: Bud Selig, Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field

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  • phattitudes

    Despite what we hear in the movies, I am not convinced that “Once you build it, they will come.” The Rays are LAST in MLB attendance even though the have a great team that is in the middle of a pennant race. Fans go to games and don’t look for excuses not to go. This area has little appreciation or love for the gift we have been given in the Rays and their ownership. Right now baseball in Tampa Bay is a bargain. That will not be the case in a “NEW” stadium. The lack of corporate support is an area problem and will not improve in a “NEW” stadium. The lack of attendance at Bucs games doesn’t bode well for the “if only they moved” strategy. The only valid solution for the Rays is to relocate to a different city. They need to be in a city that is more affluent and more professional. It would be a shame for Tampa Bay to lose the team; but unless we wake up and support them as is, we WILL LOSE THEM. We have no one to blame but ourselves. While a new stadium would be nice, it should not be built until Tampa Bay proves themselves as a baseball town. Then it could be said “we showed we will come, now you need to build it.” This is our team and they play in our stadium at least for now. Go Rays.

    • Dave Hill

      I’ve gone back and forth on this personally. I like the Trop – it’s quirky and I enjoy that in a stadium where far too many seem to be devoid of any real personality now. Yet, it is difficult to get to.

      The reason why I think a stadium in an easier to reach area may be beneficial to the Rays is their television ratings. Although they are last in attendance, the Rays rank sixth in television ratings (as of August 12th). To me, that means that the interest is there – it just is not manifesting itself in attendance.

      Maybe a new stadium would help. It is just as likely that it would not matter. However, I think that all avenues should be exhausted before the Rays and major league baseball give up on the area, and a new stadium may be the best solution at this point.