Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

    Editorials

    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  2. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma

    Hurricanes

    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma
  3. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  4. Plan your weekend: Sept. 22-24: Buffyfest, Arcade Fire, Howl-O-Scream, Wanderlust 108 and 'Rent'

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Pop show

    Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest: Pop culture meets pop music when the Florida Björkestra, a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes ground-breaking pop artists, on Saturday will play with eight vocalists for "Once More with …

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  5. Chris Archer, 25,000 Cubs fans and Tampa Bay's painful truth

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest ovation inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday night was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was returning for the first time since managing the Rays.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]