Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Selig: Baseball may intervene in Tampa Bay Rays stadium dispute

ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday the slow pace of stadium talks between the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg may prompt him to intervene.

Selig — speaking after a quarterly owners' meeting in New York — told reporters that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had given him a "very discouraging" update Tuesday.

"We were optimistic that this was moving in a very positive direction,'' Selig said. "Unfortunately, we are stalled. It's serious enough that in the last 48 hours I've given very strong consideration to assigning someone from MLB to get involved in the process and find out what is going on.''

After years of poor attendance, the Rays want to research possible new stadium sites in Tampa and St. Petersburg. Team and city officials have negotiated for months on a legal and financial framework that would allow a regionwide search.

Foster scoffed at Selig's contention that talks have stalled.

"We had a great conversation this week,'' Foster said. "The fact that we met Monday does not lend credence to his statement.''

Foster declined to say when the next meeting with the Rays would take place, "but we are still talking. There is nothing different today than there was yesterday and the day before. This is not news.''

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Sternberg's tone was more upbeat than Selig's.

"I am still optimistic that we can make progress to ensure baseball thrives in Tampa Bay for generations to come,'' Sternberg said. "To this point, MLB has left it in my hands to come up with a solution.''

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, who has been active in seeking to position his county as an option for a new Rays stadium, said Selig's statement Thursday underscored the importance of ramping up the dialogue.

"It reaffirms what Mr. Sternberg stated during his (Hillsborough) County Commission presentation in January, and it is a reflection of what I've stated for over three years," Hagan said. "There exists a sense of urgency to resolve this issue. The sense of urgency is real. It's borderline dire."

That said, Hagan said the next step is for the St. Petersburg City Council, Foster or both to reach agreement on terms that would allow the Rays to look in Hillsborough, and that could take weeks.

In the meantime, he had a meeting Thursday morning with county Administrator Mike Merrill and county attorney Chip Fletcher to begin plotting Hills­borough's course of action. They discussed what organizations should be participants in a committee Hagan hopes to form to serve as a go-between between Hillsborough officials and the Rays. The discussion also touched on upcoming talks between the county and city of Tampa about renewing redevelopment areas and special taxing districts, one of which includes downtown Tampa and areas sometimes discussed as prospective stadium locations.

The MLB commissioner's office occasionally has injected itself in other local stadium disputes, including a committee that for years has tried to find a new home for the Oakland A's. A major league executive took an active role in negotiations between the Marlins, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, who jockeyed for years before reaching a deal.

Teams with older stadiums and poor attendance often collect tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue sharing from teams that draw more fans.

As of this week, the Rays are second-worst in attendance, followed only by the Marlins. The Rays have one of the league's strongest television audiences but one the weakest media contracts because of the dynamics of Florida's cable and satellite television market.

Sternberg indicated that his fellow owners are impatient.

"We should be able to get to the point where the revenue sharing dollars we would receive don't need to be so significant year in and year out,'' he told the Associated Press. "How many years is this going to be? How much money is it going to be?"

Barry Bloom, who blogs for Major League Baseball, reported that Selig was seeking a breakthrough with St. Petersburg by the All-Star break in mid July. When that deadline fizzled, Selig gave Sternberg another month.

The Rays "have been a model organization, extraordinarily capable. Under this ownership they've done everything in their power to make their ballpark situation work,'' Selig said. "Frankly — and this is coming directly from me — baseball needs a resolution to this problem.''

Selig didn't say which executive he might appoint to mediate a deal. Foster said he did not care.

"Ours is a big table,'' Foster said. "The commissioner is always welcome to sit down with me to discuss the situation.''

Times staff writers Bill Varian and Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

PakistanChurch bombing kills at least 9Two suicide bombers attacked a church packed with worshippers Sunday in the southwest city of Quetta, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 35 others, several critically, officials said. The assault...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is saying he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump returned to the White House from Camp David on Sunday and was asked if he was considering dismissing the man investigating whether there ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida mayor resigns after arrest for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits

Florida mayor resigns after arrest for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits

DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) — The mayor of a small Florida town arrested for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits to park at city hall has resigned.The Bradenton Herald reports that Teresa Bradley resigned and was given six-months of probation as pa...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Power outage halts flights at Atlanta international airport

Power outage halts flights at Atlanta international airport

ATLANTA — A sudden power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Sunday grounded scores of flights and stranded thousands of passengers during one of the busiest travel times of the year.Passengers were left in the dark when...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Wesley Chapel woman, 28, dies after crashing motorcycle

LUTZ — A 28-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday after she crashed near Lutz Lake Fern Road and Apian Way, Hillsborough deputies reported.Erica Kristen Rodriguez of Wesley Chapel was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with a small group of motorcyclists eastb...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Why Jon Gruden was the best mistake the Bucs ever made

Why Jon Gruden was the best mistake the Bucs ever made

Warren Sapp pointed to the sky. And then he dropped Kurt Warner to the ground.The Bucs had just intercepted Warner for the fourth time. Sapp’s block cleared the way for Derrick Brooks to cross the goal line and clinch the win.Before Tampa Bay p...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Woman, 24, hit by Land Rover, in critical condition

LARGO — A 24-year-old woman is in critical condition after she was struck by a vehicle Saturday night, police said.Khadijah Wood was walking through the parking lot of the Sandy Lane Apartment Homes on Belcher Road about 7:30 p.m.At the same time, Ju...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Warm, sunny Sunday in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — It’s another bright, sunny day in Tampa Bay. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaHigh temperatures should reach about 80 d...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Murder suspect is on the run after fatally shooting a father, cops say

Murder suspect is on the run after fatally shooting a father, cops say

A first-degree murder suspect remains at large almost a week after the fatal shooting of a Winter Haven father.The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says Johnny Ray Owsley’s murder of 35-year-old Adam Thrower, called "Cook" by friends, involved Owsley’s e...
Updated: 9 hours ago