Buckhorn: Rays stadium 'stalemate has gone on long enough'
After throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday's Tampa Bay Rays game against the New York Yankees, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he believes the Rays stadium “stalemate has gone on long enough.”
And the waiting game has been tough because Buckhorn admits he’s “not a patient guy,” reports Tampa Bay Times staff writer Joe Smith.
But Buckhorn has been encouraged there seems to be a growing sense of urgency and more discussions between St. Petersburg and the Rays.
“I get a sense that, perhaps over the summer, there may be some movement,” Buckhorn said. “I don’t know what it’ll be. But I think everyone recognizes that the status quo is not an answer.”
Buckhorn made it clear he’s not going to “get in the middle,” saying he respects the position St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is in and how much of an investment the citizens of St. Petersburg have made to the facility. Foster has said they’ve been trying to find a “middle ground” with the Rays, who have a lease at the Trop until 2027 but want to explore potential stadium sites outside of the city. Buckhorn said there “needs to be options because this is not going until 2027. It’s just not.”
Buckhorn reiterated if Rays are allowed to look elsewhere, “we’ll be ready.”
“We don’t want to lose them,” Buckhorn said. “This is our team. This isn’t Charlotte’s team, this is not Las Vegas’ team, and this team deserves the best efforts to find a way to make sure that they stay.”
For the record this is the second time Buckhorn has thrown out the first pitch for the Rays. (The first time was in June 2011.) He also has thrown out two first pitches at Yankees spring training games in Tampa and one for the University of South Florida Bulls.
That makes five, which Buckhorn says is "the entirety of the number of pitches I've thrown in the past 30 years." His goal on each: not to end up on an ESPN bloopers segment.