Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 The Rays say the Trop is outdated and the reason the team ranks near the bottom of attendance in baseball.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 or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @ markpuente.

Campaign rhetoric heats up between Foster, Kriseman over Rays 09/05/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 12:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  2. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  3. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor


    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to
  4. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter


    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]
  5. FSU-Tulane coming to Amalie Arena in December


    Florida State basketball is coming to Tampa.