Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Campaign rhetoric heats up between Foster, Kriseman over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman has a message for the Tampa Bay Rays as the team negotiates with Mayor Bill Foster over the lengthy stadium stalemate.

"I don't lie," he said. "You can trust me."

If elected, he pledges to move the issue forward, not let it fester for years.

"We will have honest dialogue," Kriseman said Thursday. "That is something the Rays haven't had. They don't feel they can get that with the mayor."

The stadium saga is likely to become a focal point on the campaign trail in the coming weeks because Foster told the City Council late Wednesday that talks with the Rays have fizzled recently.

Foster's response to Kriseman's comments showed growing tension between the two candidates.

"There is a big difference between politics and governing," Foster said. "I'd appreciate it if he'd leave the governing to me. I'm not going to play politics with taxpayers' money."

A user agreement binds the Rays to Tropicana Field through 2027. The Rays say the Trop is outdated and the reason the team ranks near the bottom of attendance in baseball.

If Kriseman unseats Foster in the Nov. 5 election, he said he wants to immediately meet with the Rays to hear their ideas on a new stadium, boosting attendance and playing in a different city. Protecting city coffers is a priority, he added, echoing one of Foster's most common themes.

As for what Kriseman would do differently from Foster, he said he would:

• Grant permission to the team to explore sites outside the city without having to pay a fee in exchange for lowering ticket prices next season to lure more fans.

• Create incentive programs with restaurants and hotels to make games attractive to tourists and visitors.

• Ask bay area transit agencies to establish direct bus routes to bring fans to Tropicana Field.

• Ask the team to support the proposed Greenlight Pinellas plan for a sales tax to improve transportation.

He also wants to explore high-speed water taxis between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The Rays declined to comment on Kriseman's ideas.

Meanwhile, Foster called Kriseman naive for thinking he could implement the ideas.

"I have been working with the organization for two years to make sure taxpayers' interests are preserved and recognized," he said. "It sounds like a Kriseman administration would give everything away."

Reducing ticket prices might pose a problem for the Rays.

In late 2012, the Rays were named the most affordable team in professional sports, according to ESPN The Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings." It marked the sixth straight year that the Rays ranked in ESPN's top three in affordability out of 122 MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises.

The Rays already support mass transit in the region.

Team president Matt Silverman served on a Tampa Bay Partnership board that endorsed Hillsborough County's November 2010 voter referendum on mass transit. More recently, the team endorsed Greenlight Pinellas.

The Greenlight website lists Rays' senior vice president Michael Kalt as a supporter, saying, "Transit is really the linchpin to economic success and improving the quality of life in any major metropolitan area."

Foster's declaration on Wednesday came three weeks after baseball commissioner Bud Selig said the slow pace of the talks might prompt him to intervene in the discussions.

Since 2010, Foster has always said he would protect taxpayers who paid $150 million to build the Trop.

He shifted his stance to go outside the city earlier this year after team representatives visited Pinellas and Hillsborough county commissions to talk about the need for a new stadium.

Kriseman blamed Foster for not solving the stalemate sooner.

"You can't have real, honest negotiations if you don't trust the people sitting across the other side of the table," Kriseman said. "The mayor has really stuck his head in the sand."

Foster countered: "There's a big difference to being on the outside than being on the inside of the negotiations."

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @ markpuente.

 
Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18