Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Details remain secret in meeting between mayor and Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster finally got his meeting with Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg, but both men kept details secret.

The private meeting Friday evening took place at an undisclosed location.

"Today's conversation was a productive one and we anticipate continuing it in the coming weeks," according to a joint statement released by the Rays and Foster.

The team declined to comment further, and Foster did not return repeated calls for comment.

It's doubtful that much progress was made in the years-long stalemate over the team wanting to explore stadium sites outside the city. Foster would need the City Council's approval before amending the team's user agreement to play at Tropicana Field through 2027.

Foster has asked repeatedly for meetings with Sternberg in the past few months. Both men are key to the future of Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay region.

Sternberg wants a new stadium and says Tropicana Field is inadequate to play in until 2027. He asked Foster for permission to look at potential stadium sites in Hillsborough County. Sternberg even made recent pleas to the commissioners in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties about poor attendance.

Foster has answered with a resounding no, refusing to let the team look at sites outside mid Pinellas. He has stuck to his stance that the Rays owe the city and taxpayers another 15 years of games.

Friday's meeting was scheduled after a proposal to let the Rays look around for a fee died at the St. Petersburg City Council. But members pressed Foster during that debate to continue to try to negotiate with the Rays.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

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