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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist says he'll help Rays with stadium



Dscn1702Gov. Charlie Crist said this morning he has "pretty much'' pledged to do whatever he can to help the Tampa Bay Rays get political help and money they need from the state to build a new 35,000-seat ballpark on the site of Al Lang Field in downtown St. Petersburg.

In his first public comments on the issue since the Rays' plans were disclosed Friday on, Crist said the team's dream of a new home on the bay "sounds great to me," and he likened it to the San Francisco Giants' park that overlooks water.

"I think the opportunity to create an ambiance right on the waterfront in St. Petersburg is brilliant, I really do," Crist told reporters in the state Capitol.

Crist was not definitive on whether he favored a tax rebate of as much as $60-million toward stadium construction, but he emphasized that sports facilities are good for the state's economy.

"It provides jobs, jobs, jobs for a lot of people," said Crist, whose rental condo in downtown St. Petersburg would be blocks from  the new park.

The governor said it would be "kinda sad" to see Tropicana Field, the Rays' current home, torn down, but the waterside location would be great for the city and the state.

"The waterfront in St. Petersburg is glorious, as it is all over the state," Crist said.

The Rays want St. Petersburg voters to consider the proposal in a November 2008 referendum.

-- Steve Bousquet, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:27am]


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