Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Top News App

Crist angry he had no say in proposed Tampa ballpark site before it went public

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan surprised the local sports world by announcing that local leaders picked a Ybor City site to offer the Tampa Bay Rays for a ballpark.

But that’s not all who were surprised.

Commissioner Victor Crist was livid Wednesday that he learned about the plan through the media. Crist said it was a violation of protocol for Hagan to unveil a location as a county plan and present it to the Rays without first getting the approval of the entire commission.

Crist’s fear is that this has been branded publicly as Hillsborough County’s plan, when the county commission hasn’t even seen it, let alone vote on it.

"This has had no vetting of the county commission. This has had no vetting of public input," Crist said. "This whole thing has been done in a vacuum behind the scenes, out of the sunshine and that is not how the Board of County Commissioners operates."

Crist pointed out that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told reporters that he, too, was caught off guard by Hagan’s announcement. County Administrator Mike Merrill told the Tampa Bay Times that he wasn’t given a warning by Hagan either, but said, "That's his prerogative."

Hagan informed reporters Tuesday that the county had solidified site control of 14 acres in the area between the Channel District and Ybor City through a nonprofit that will be run by Tampa lawyer Ron Christaldi and businessman Charles Sykes.

Crist said he met with Christaldi the day before, along with Rays President Brian Auld. The Ybor site never came up. Instead, during the conversation, which included about 12 other people, Crist talked about the merits of the Tampa Greyhound Track for a ballpark.

Why didn’t Christaldi or Auld clue him in? Crist wondered.

"You can find this whole thing breaks down quickly just because it was handled inappropriately," said Crist, who opined that his colleagues were just as upset.

But if they are, they declined to lash out, as Crist did.

Commissioners Al Higginbotham, Les Miller and Sandy Murman said they weren’t expecting an announcement Tuesday but nevetheless had no problem with Hagan making public the preferred site.

In a vote last year, the board formally designated Hagan the commission’s point person to lead the site search with other community and business leaders, and to negotiate with the Rays and landowners.

"We gave him that authority and to my knowledge he did exactly what we asked him to do," Miller said.

Murman said, though, it is important to note that no deal has been struck — "We’d have to approve that," she said — and she expects a conversation on the board soon.

"It’s a process," Murman said, "and we’re in the conceptual stage."

Comments
The Daystarter: Brittany Lincicome makes more golfing history; solving crime one app at a time; why is Florida struggling with toxic algae blooms?

The Daystarter: Brittany Lincicome makes more golfing history; solving crime one app at a time; why is Florida struggling with toxic algae blooms?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Rinse and repeat for another hot July day: Overnight showers will hit the coast in the morning and move inland over the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Where to eat and drink around Safety Harbor: Gigglewaters bar, Parts of Paris, Sno Beach and more

Not that many years ago, downtown Safety Harbor was a little lean on places to eat. Green Springs Bistro had been an anchor, Whistle Stop and Cello’s Char House, too. But no one would have called it a dining destination. It was too bad: The city of 1...
Published: 07/18/18
Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

Tampa Bay is a perfect place to make your own food tour. Here are our suggestions.

There are many good reasons to eat at four or five places in one night. A near overwhelming number of new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area can provoke anxiety in a certain kind of diner, the one who wants to try everything but doesn’t have the funds...
Published: 07/18/18
Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Eat and drink your way through Tampa Heights with stops at Hall on Franklin, Armature Works and more

Five or six years ago, if you were to stand on the steps of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and look north along the Hillsborough River, there wouldn’t be much to see. Just a couple of old warehouses and some rubble in the area ...
Published: 07/18/18
In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

In South Tampa, create a dinearound with stops at Bern’s, Haven and the Epicurean Hotel

I had a specific vision for my 35th birthday.Relaxation mostly. Bathrobe. Wine. Maybe a massage or a pool. Food, food, food. A handful of close friends. I did some research at beach hotels in Clearwater and St. Pete Beach and found the price range ou...
Published: 07/18/18
Train crashes into SUV in Dade City, injuring one

Train crashes into SUV in Dade City, injuring one

DADE CITY — One person was seriously injured when a train struck a sport-utility vehicle on Tuesday along the train tracks near U.S. 301, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue.The incident took place near the 37900 block of Vitality Way. The incident...
Updated: 8 hours ago
SWAT team, K-9’s and bomb squad drill at Strawberry Crest High to prevent next mass shooting (w/video)

SWAT team, K-9’s and bomb squad drill at Strawberry Crest High to prevent next mass shooting (w/video)

DOVER — Carlos Gonzalez, the head of custodians at Strawberry Crest High School, sat in his golf cart Tuesday morning as the Hillsborough County sheriff’s aerial unit circled in a helicopter above, casting long, jagged shadows on the football field b...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Clearwater man charged with using a forklift to pin his girlfriend against a bus

Clearwater man charged with using a forklift to pin his girlfriend against a bus

CLEARWATER — A 67-year-old man is accused of using a forklift to pin his girlfriend against a bus, according to Clearwater police.Colin Lee Showard, faces a charge of aggravated battery in connection with the Sunday night incident which took place al...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

CLEARWATER –– The ferry that once linked St. Petersburg and Tampa downtowns took one step closer to returning in November.While the Pinellas County Commission didn’t approve spending money to help pay for the CrossBay Ferry during a meeting Tuesday, ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Lori Romano, fired from the Hernando County superintendent post for "ineffective leadership" a month ago, has snagged a job in the neighboring Pasco County school district.She won’t be nearly as high up the administrative ladder in her new role.Subje...
Updated: 11 hours ago