Sternberg, Kriseman meet for 'great conversation'
PORT CHARLOTTE - Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and new St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman met Tuesday afternoon to talk baseball, their first official session since Kriseman took office, the Times has learned.
"It was nice,'' Sternberg said this morning at the Rays spring training site. "We had a great conversation and I'm very confident in his ability and his vision in leading the city.''
Sternberg said it was a productive discussion, but also general in nature, with "nothing at all" decided and few specifics about the stadium situation.
That eventually will evolve, as the Rays are seeking permission from the city to explore Tampa sites as well as in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County for a potential new stadium. But for now Sternberg is willing to be patient as Kriseman, who took office in January, settles into the role.
"At a point, yes,'' Sternberg said. "Right now I think, at my suggestion, he clearly has a lot to do - he's 40, 50 days in the door - this shouldn't be the first or second or fifth thing he focuses on. And it's such a large issue that he should be able to get a sense of who we are to the community and to the region and make some decisions based on that.''
After inquiries from the Times, Kriseman's office issued a statement Wednesday that said: "Mayor Kriseman and Rays leadership met on Tuesday to discuss the future of baseball in St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area. Both parties agreed that such talks, based on mutual trust and respect, should remain private and not distract from what is sure to be another exciting season of Rays Baseball.''
Like previous Mayor Bill Foster before him, Kriseman may want to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. Sternberg said he is willing to discuss anything.
"Everything is an option, absolutely,'' he said. "Our stance remains the same that we'd like to explore opportunities that would enable the franchise to stay here for generations and the way to get there is to find the best spot for the team and where its going to be for the next 50 or 70 years.''
Sternberg had met with Kriseman in December, after he was elected but before he took office, so this was their second sitdown. Sternberg, who was heading back to his New York home this afternoon, did not say when they would meet again.
"We're a big part of the city and I imagine he wants to get a sense of what they can do for us and I told him I'd like to be of service for the Rays organization to try to lift the city's fortunes as well,'' Sternberg said. "And things will move along.''
Staff writer Mark Puente contributed to this report.