Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays may delay referendum on new waterfront stadium

This image shows the design of the waterfront stadium Tampa Bay Rays planned on the old Al Lang Field site in St. Petersburg.

Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays

This image shows the design of the waterfront stadium Tampa Bay Rays planned on the old Al Lang Field site in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays may soon abandon their push for a November referendum to build a $450-million waterfront stadium.

An announcement could come as early as today, city and county officials with knowledge of the Rays' plan told the St. Petersburg Times late Tuesday. The Rays have contemplated delaying a vote on the stadium until 2010.

The team is "considering a change of direction," said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch. "I'm just glad from the county's perspective that folks are not talking about forcing a November referendum."

Rays executives did not return calls for comments Tuesday, and team officials denied as late as Monday the possibility of pushing back the referendum. Senior vice president Michael Kalt was scheduled to make a stadium presentation to a coalition of beach communities this morning.

News of a delay would slow down a process that city and county leaders from the beginning said was moving too quickly. The Rays announced their proposal to build a 34,000-seat ballpark at the site of Al Lang Field on Nov. 28.

No one the Times spoke with on Tuesday expected the Rays to halt their quest for a new ballpark, or even one on the waterfront. But the extra time would allow the city and county to consider possible alternative locations for a new stadium.

"It's fairly obvious this process needs to slow down," said Welch, who spoke with Rays president Matt Silverman this week about delaying a citywide vote on the stadium plan.

Mayor Rick Baker, who officials say knows of the Rays' plans, did not return calls for comments.

Members of the St. Petersburg City Council were unaware of a possible delay. "If the rumor is in fact true, I am pleased to hear it," said City Council member Herb Polson.

City Council member Jeff Danner said he heard the Rays were preparing to make a big announcement, but he did not know what it was.

From the beginning, the Rays argued for a 2008 referendum to capitalize on the high voter turnout associated with a presidential campaign.

Quietly, team officials think that a broader electorate might help the Rays. They also said the project's cost would likely escalate if a vote was pushed back because of the rising price of steel and concrete.

But city and county leaders consistently have argued for a possible "Plan B." Former City Council member and likely mayoral candidate Bill Foster became the latest to advocate a more protracted approach last week, when he suggested forming a baseball blue ribbon committee.

St. Petersburg's Council of Neighborhood Associations, which opposes a November referendum, also has asked the team and city to slow down.

A referendum of St. Petersburg voters is required because the Rays are seeking to lease waterfront property for the new ballpark. A non-waterfront location would not require a citywide vote, though city officials may insist on one anyway.

Staff writers Cristina Silva and Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays may delay referendum on new waterfront stadium 06/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  3. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.