Negotiations are growing contentious between the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg regarding future stadium plans.
Tropicana Field, current home of the Tampa Bay Rays, sits on 86 acres of prime real estate in St. Petersburg. The lease runs through the 2027 season. The Mayor has denied the team of its wish to play half the season here and half in Montreal.
He has also stopped them from exploring options to play home games anywhere other than Tropicana Field. The Mayor believes this is the best approach to stop the team from playing half of their home games in Montreal.
Tampa-treal Snow Rays?
Following six months of negotiations with the Rays, Mayor Rick Kriseman informed the St. Petersburg city council members that he would not be discussing the details of the negotiations on the record and would instead meet with them privately.
Meanwhile, Rays’ management has invoked their right (provided by the lease) to prevent the city from developing that valuable piece of real estate they are renting until their lease is up.
The lease agreement prohibits the Rays from playing home games on another field or even negotiating to do so.
I defer to the great John Solomon’s article in the Tampa Bay Times:
"The Trop’s use agreement binds the team to the city. But Wolfe, who wrote the contract, said it could also be used by the team to bind the city."
The attorney who wrote the lease, John Wolfe, says the Rays have the ability to prevent the city from developing on the land for years to come.
"“They could certainly delay it for years if they wanted to,” Wolfe told the Times, regarding any attempt to develop the land without the Rays’ permission.”"
They both appear to have legal rights and they are using them to beat each other over the heads.
Social Media Shots Fired
The Mayor released this statement via social media outlets. He had a picture of himself superimposed into a graphic using the Rays’ team colors… and tagged the team.
Paraphrasing what he had to say, “We could do some awesome things…We wanna do awesome stuff with the land and it wouldn’t bother the Rays while they play baseball…but they’re being big meanies and won’t let us!”
The Rays’ interest maybe “for seven more years” but according to what we know about the lease, The Rays have the right to block development. Just the same as it is the city’s right to prevent the Rays from engaging in negotiations for an alternative home-field.
The team responded with this:
This is fun, right?
Who Should Fans Root For?
It may be political posturing. As fans, we can only hope it’s posturing that we don’t lose our team for good. Perhaps they put their phones down and come to an agreement.
Maybe the Rays go to Tampa. After all, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has stated – despite not engaging in negotiations with the Rays – that her city would be open to a sister-city proposal with Montreal.
As fans, we can go out and support those players that are on their way to Port Charlotte. Those guys that put in countless hours to become the best in the world at their craft.
We can support baseball in our beautiful area of the United States.
Enjoy these social-media temper tantrums while you can. Eventually, decisions will have to be made.
For now, let’s enjoy the baseball.