Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Mayor: Dunedin to start pursuing other spring training teams

DUNEDIN — Wanted: One Major League Baseball team looking for a good spring training home.

Mayor Dave Eggers announced Thursday that he is going to start contacting teams that might be candidates to replace the Toronto Blue Jays if that organization pulls out of Dunedin.

The Jays and the Houston Astros are pursuing a proposal for a joint spring training stadium in Palm Beach Gardens on Florida's east coast.

"They're doing their thing, so we're going to do our thing," Eggers said.

Though Eggers and Jays president Paul Beeston had agreed to talk by phone once a week, Eggers said he manages to connect with Beeston only about every other week. He said Beeston has indicated that "he likes it here" and that the team will finish its contract, which expires in December 2017.

Eggers estimated that the Jays should know whether the stadium talks in Palm Beach Gardens will be successful in about five or so months. If that plan fails, he hopes the Jays will be open to negotiating with Dunedin.

"I've told him very candidly that, until we as a commission decide differently, our goal is to have Major League Baseball here — with them at the top of our list — but … that we're going to start exploring some other interests just to have dialogue," he said. "I think it's incumbent upon us to be ready. He certainly understood, he respected that. … I've shared with him that I will tell him after I've had those contacts with those other teams, just to be fair and forthright with him."

Eggers' comments were part of a spring training update at last week's commission meeting, during which city Parks and Recreation director Vince Gizzi recapped Dunedin's efforts so far to woo the Jays. Those include a visit to Toronto to present conceptual stadium alternatives and a $7,500 economic impact study that showed Jays fans spent $80.3 million on food, hotels and other entertainment around the Tampa Bay region this year versus $71.1 million in 2009.

"What we're trying to do is get ourselves ready for dialogue, whether it's with the Blue Jays or another team," Eggers said. "At the end of the day, there's nothing really new. The process moves along."

Commissioners disagreed Thursday on when the city should start tapping potential members for a regionwide group of stakeholders who can offer advice and contacts as the city pursues baseball.

Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said it's never too early to start gathering outside input. However, Vice Mayor Julie Scales feared the city would be wasting the time of some "really very busy people when there's not really some meat to chew on."

Commissioners ultimately agreed to let the city staff members who are steering the baseball talks decide when the time is right to assemble a stakeholder group.

Eggers and City Manager Rob DiSpirito have provided roughly monthly updates on the status of the baseball talks, but said they would start giving updates biweekly after several commissioners complained that they and residents feel out of the loop.

"What I hear from people is that they're not hearing anything from us, so … they feel we're not doing anything and that's just not the case," Bujalski said.

"Even if there isn't a lot of traction right now," added Commissioner Heather Gracy, "it's still important to communicate that."

Echoing the mayor's sentiments, Scales noted that "this has been a frustrating situation for everyone because the Blue Jays have been very clear that they just simply are not ready to talk to us."

If the Jays choose not to talk at all, she said, "I don't think baseball is the only game in town. I think everything is on the table."

The city's stadium and spring training facilities "are properties that could be very valuable for other uses in the city, so I think we need to be looking at that too," she said.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

TAMPA — After David Brunson murdered an 18-year-old Freedom High School senior, he told a witness the victim was "just some ghetto kid nobody will miss."But people do miss Eion Gustitis.More than two years after Gustitis was shot in the head in a rem...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

High school students from around the Tampa Bay area are participating in the National School Walkout today commemorating the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 and calling for gun law reform.A large group of students from St. Petersburg High g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
One injured, suspect in custody in Ocala school shooting

One injured, suspect in custody in Ocala school shooting

OCALA — One student shot another in the ankle at a Florida high school and the suspected shooter is in custody, authorities said Friday.The Marion County Sheriff’s Office reported that the shooting happened Friday morning at Forest High School, which...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Flight attendants say ‘appalling’ Southwest flight photo confirms it — you’re not paying attention to the safety demo

Flight attendants say ‘appalling’ Southwest flight photo confirms it — you’re not paying attention to the safety demo

Mario Nunez called it a "huge shaking my head moment" when the photo inside the cabin of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 appeared on his TV.The story was about a terrifying emergency landing after an engine exploded 20 minutes into a trip from New Yor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Goodman: In America, truth is missing in action

It’s "Mueller Time," as the nation grows ever closer to a confrontation with the truth.Was collusion with the Russians an illusion? If not, who was involved, what was done, and when? Did it impact the 2016 campaign, the fate of Hillary Clinton and no...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

The man identified as the suspect who fatally shot two Gilchrist County deputies in a restaurant Thursday afternoon before taking his own life has ties to the Tampa Bay area.Deputies say John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell — who was found dead outside ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties; man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death; and more

Top 5 at noon: Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties; man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:SUSPECT IN GILCHRIST DEPUTIES’ SLAYINGS HAS TAMPA BAY TIESThe man identified as the suspect who fatally shot two Gilchrist County deputies in a restaurant Thursday afternoon before taking his...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Updated: 2 hours ago