Foster: I'm used to Buckhorn's lusty Rays talk
ST. PETERSBURG -- St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster shrugged when told about Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s comments on a radio show Friday morning about how Tampa would be a great location for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium.
“It’s absolutely nothing new in what he said on the air and what he’s said to me personally,” Foster said.
On the Ron Dian and Ian Beckles sports radio show on WDAE 620 AM on Friday morning, Buckhorn said, as he usually does, that he doesn't want to get in between St. Petersburg and the Rays, but that downtown Tampa would be a great location for a stadium.
"If the divorce occurs, I think the Rays are a regional asset that we need to keep and I’ve said from Day One long before anyone cared what I said that downtown Tampa is the best place for them," Buckhorn said. "I think the economic opportunities around an urban baseball stadium are huge. Huge. It would transform downtown Tampa like nothing we could imagine."
Buckhorn said a new Rays stadium in downtown Tampa could energize an area already on the upswing.
"There’s a lot of stuff going on downtown right now. The river is coming alive. I can see an awful lot of commercial, retail and hotels springing up around an urban stadium ... It’s a good fit. It’s a natural fit, but again, until the divorce occurs, I’m not going to be the boyfriend in the divorce," Buckhorn said.
"We have to recognize that legally binding document," Buckhorn said. "And if the divorce takes place, it’ll be between those two principals. Now Mayor Foster has a lot of debt on that stadium that he needs to be made whole on. The citizens of St. Pete have to be made whole on it. Once that happens, if it happens, then I think the discussions will take place. We’re ready to put our best minds to it if given the opportunity. We just want to keep the Rays here and for the Rays to be successful."
When asked about Buckhorn’s insistence that he’s not interfering, Foster chuckled. “There’s always a ‘but’ in there,” he said. “I’m used to it.”
As for Buckhorn’s claim that the Rays stadium “needs to be in downtown Tampa,” Foster didn’t object. “From Buddy Dyer saying Orlando is best, to Bob Buckhorn saying Tampa is best, to Bill Foster saying St. Petersburg is best, that’s what mayors do,” he said.
He said he and Buckhorn will meet next week to talk about a variety of issues.
“This might be a topic we’ll discuss,” he said.
--Michael Van Sickler, Times staff writer