Maddon: Trop "improper" for MLB, it's "time to move on" to centrally located retractable roof stadium
Asked about criticism of Tropicana Field by ESPN broadcaster John Kruk and others, Rays manager Joe Maddon joined the chorus, saying the Trop was "improper" for major-league baseball and needed to be replaced by a more centrally located facility, and took some veiled shots at St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster for insisting the team has to stay in St. Petersburg.
Maddon also said the new stadium would have to have a retractable roof, otherwise it would be "economical suicide" and needed to be built "where the most people could come with the least amount of resistance.''
Foster told the Times in response that while he considers the team a regional asset, his concern is to "protect the interests of the people who built the stadium" and stuck to his position that the Rays, with a lease through 2027, are welcome to look at sites within Pinellas County. (Foster's full comments are below.)
"I don’t think anybody is going to argue against the fact that we do need a new ballpark. Nobody is going to argue against that point. What it seems to be is this inability to get togther regarding where it should be located.
"(Kruk is) right. We do need a new ballpark. He’s absolutely right. And he’s right, this ballpark is improper for Major League Baseball. He’s right. I can’t deny that.
"You shouldn’t play with all these obstructions, and all these caveats. Of course not. It's runs it's course. It was here for a moment. It served it's purpose. And now it’s time to move on. Absolutely it is. And to deny that, everybody has just got their head in the sand, period.
"From my perspective, what I’m reading, it should be about location. And for me location should be where everybody benefits the most. I believe it’s a regional assest, it’s not a city asset. When you start looking at at it as mine, and not everybody’s, that’s where things get skewed or not work out well.
"This is a great place to raise a family and for me it's a great place to have a major-league team - the Tampa Bay area. So looking down the road I would hope that people have enough foresight to construct the new bllpark in the right place that maintains us here for many years, and permits us to build this (organization) into what we can. It's already pretty darn good - we could make it even better with the right facilities.
"The new ballpark would have to be retractable. To do otherwise would be economic suicide – it’s uncomfortable, the rain, the disruptions with the game, the disruptions with your work. All that stuff would be counter-productive. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Do it right, man.’’
"I agree it's a regional asset and it requires support from the entire region. As I said before, I am not the regional mayor. I
am the mayor of the city of st. petersburg and I will do whatever I can to protect the interests of the people who built the stadium.
"We absolutely need to work with the region. ... I’ve always been one to look at the regional approach when it comes to attract fans to Tropicana Field. But the region didn’t build Tropicana Fied. It was the people of Pinellas County who built Tropicana Field. So right now I am only concerned with their interests and protecting their investments.
"They have 15 years left on their lease agreement ... so yeah, I’m holding on pretty tightly. If they want to look at sites within Pinellas County, I'm all for that."