Mussett hired to coordinate effort to keep Rays in St. Pete
A longtime senior official who helped bring baseball to Tampa Bay has received a call from the bullpen to help save the future of the sport in the city.
Rick Mussett, who retired in 2014 as city development administrator, was the primary liaison between the city and the Tampa Bay Rays.
In his new role, he’ll be the point person in the city’s “Baseball Forever” campaign to persuade its major-league team to remain on the western side of the bay.
The city has budgeted $50,000 for Mussett, as a part-time hire, to coordinate the effort, which will revolve around a master plan vision for a new stadium on the Tropicana Field site surrounded by retail, nightlife, office buildings and housing on the 85-acre site.
“No one knows the baseball business better than Rick in this area,” said Kevin King, Mayor Rick Kriseman’s chief of staff.
The hire was announced after a high-spirited rally at Ferg’s, a sports bar which has become an iconic part of the Rays’ short-lived history at the Trop. Kriseman and Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the Greater St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce led the rally in front of a crowded bar full of fans, many of whom had spent the afternoon at Rays Fest across the street at the dome.
Kriseman made an impassioned case for his city, saying that he and the City Council had made a “doggone good bet” that allowing the team to look outside the city for three years.
In the end, the mayor said, he believes the team will realize their best option is staying put.