St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster meets with students at City Hall
A conversation between Mayor Bill Foster and a third grader could lend insight into whether the Tampa Bay Rays will be allowed to explore stadium sites outside the city.
During a meeting and tour at City Hall, 33 students from James B. Sanderlin IB World School quizzed Foster on how he runs the city and makes important decisions.
“Is the Rays stadium going to stay in St. Petersburg?” a student asked.
Without hesitation, Foster replied: “Absolutely, yes. The Rays stadium is going to stay here.”
“Why do they call it Tampa Bay Rays?” another asked.
Foster chuckled, adding: “They did it before I got on City Council. All of our sports teams are called Tampa...”
“That doesn’t sound right,” the girl quipped.
Baseball fans throughout the region are waiting for Foster to either green light or spike the Rays request to look at stadium sites across the bay.
Last month, a St. Petersburg developer unveiled designs for a new stadium in the Carillon business park. The Rays said they would only explore the plan but only if they could check other sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Foster has already met with the City Council members to formulate a response and could present a counteroffer to the team this week.
The mayor walked around a table as he fielded questions from students. The light-hearted mood was a break from the tension Foster has faced in the room from the council members in recent months.
Like any group of future voters, the students asked Foster what he does for them.
Nearly every student raised their hand when Foster asked if they visited city parks, pools and recreation centers.
Another student asked Foster why became mayor.
“I had a lapse of good judgment,” Foster joked. “In high school, this was my dream job. I though I had some good ideas that could make it better for you.”
Still, Foster cautioned the kids that he might be the boss at City Hall, but his wife still makes him take out the garbage at home.