Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays reach out to Pinellas County commissioners

ST. PETERSBURG —A Tampa Bay Rays official is quietly meeting with Pinellas County commissioners as a private developer prepares to unveil plans for a new stadium next week.

It's unclear how many of the seven commissioners have met with Michael Kalt, the team's senior vice president of development and business affairs. Clearwater land-use attorney Ed Armstrong has been working to set up the meetings, according to a county email.

Neither man returned calls for comment.

Commissioner Nancy Bostock had a "very short" meeting with Kalt and Armstrong on Tuesday.

"We really weren't able to have a substantive conversation," she said. "It was just about getting to know each other."

Commissioner Norm Roche met with the men last week and said that Kalt gave no indication of whether the team wants to remain in Pinellas County or move to another location in the bay area.

Roche said he doesn't believe they had any agenda.

"I think they really just wanted to gauge where our minds are," he said.

Commissioners Ken Welch and John Morroni are scheduled to meet with them Oct. 3.

"It's a chit-chat session," said County Administrator Robert LaSala, who also met with the Rays. "This is not about decision-making plans."

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Council Chair Leslie Curran learned of the meetings from the Tampa Bay Times.

Foster said the meetings are a good sign because county officials would have to approve any stadium being built in Pinellas County.

"Good for them," Foster said about the Rays. "If anything is going to be built in Pinellas County, it would have to go through (the County Commission).

Foster hopes the team also schedules meetings with the eight City Council members.

"I would feel different if it was the Hillsborough County Commission," the mayor said.

The public will see designs for a privately designed stadium during a "special council meeting" on Sept. 28 at the Hilton hotel in the Carillon area.

CityScape, a firm owned by real estate developer Darryl LeClair, 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.

During the meeting, neither the council nor the public will be allowed to ask questions.

Last week, Curran formally invited the commissioners to the presentation. In her invite, she noted that the council won't publicly ask CityScape questions to protect the city's contract that keeps the Rays at Tropicana Field through 2027.

Roche said he plans to attend the presentation, but isn't happy about the no-questions rule.

It's not the first time the Rays have used Armstrong.

The college pitcher-turned-lawyer has deep political connections and has solicited county commissioners in the past.

Armstrong has contributed cash and advice to some commission members and sometimes represents developers before them.

Tampa Bay Rays reach out to Pinellas County commissioners 09/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'


    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco


    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game


    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?


    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]