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St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays to hear pitch for new stadium Sept. 28

ST. PETERSBURG — The opening pitch for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium will be thrown Sept. 28.

That's when residents and city officials will get to see the proposal from CityScape, a firm owned by real estate developer Darryl LeClair.

Where the meeting will be held is still a matter of debate, like so many topics related to a new stadium for the Rays.

City Council member Jim Kennedy wants to hold the meeting at the Hilton in Carillon Park to accommodate CityScape team members, who want a bigger venue for the unveiling.

"There's a desire to have a bigger presentation," he said Thursday during a council workshop.

Council Chair Leslie Curran didn't like the idea because she thinks the location will dissuade residents from attending.

"This is where the government is ran," she said, referring to City Hall in downtown St. Petersburg. "First and foremost, we need to have it here. This is the appropriate venue."

Kennedy then asked to have the debate listed on next week's council agenda for a vote.

He looked to Mayor Bill Foster for support. Foster pointed out that the city has held other presentations away from City Hall. "It's going to be very tight in council chambers," he said.

The meeting, Foster said, could be taped by the city's television station but wouldn't be live like a regular city meeting.

He stressed that he wants to accommodate CityScape.

Council member Karl Nurse agreed, saying: "The road goes both directions. We need to do some confidence building."

Council member Steve Kornell said he didn't understand why people wouldn't go to Carillon.

"If we build a stadium there, how do we expect them to get there for a game," Kornell said. "If we can't even decide when to have a meeting, this isn't a good way to start."

Officials expect 300 people at the meeting, tentatively scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Rays officials have said they will attend. The County Commission also has been invited.

CityScape wants to build the stadium in the Carillon business park just west of the Howard Frankland Bridge in the Gateway area. LeClair controls roughly 12 acres of vacant land there where a stadium could fit.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays to hear pitch for new stadium Sept. 28 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:47pm]
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