Sunday, February 18, 2018
Opinion

St. Petersburg issues expose lack of leadership

October is upon us and the Tampa Bay Rays have wrapped up play for the year. Just where they'll play in coming years has become a bone of contention among politicians, the business community and fans. Developers seem to be coming out of the woodwork with stadium plans — as if stadiums are the soup de jour.

Developer Joel Cantor said a 33,000-seat stadium could be a perfect fit on the waterfront site of Channelside Bay Plaza in Tampa.

A week earlier, St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair showed off a proposal for a 35,000-seat stadium that would be built in mid-Pinellas County, "Rays Park at Carillon."

Lost in all the chatter is the cost to build these facilities and more important — who will pay for them.

But it's time for regional leaders to have a serious conversation about the greater Tampa Bay area and the lack of support of sports teams.

Save for the Lightning and in recent years, the USF Bulls, fan support has been shoddy and sponsorships from the business community have been lackluster.

Oh, but there's a lot of hot air being blown on both sides of the bay.

To the folks trolling websites and social media laying in wait to post comments on why the team would be more successful in Tampa, I have 65,000 reasons why it's a bad idea.

When was the last time anyone around here has been able to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host a game from the comforts of home?

Tampa seems to have its own downtown problems with little or no foot traffic, a trolley that some officials want to abandon and a Friday market that struggled and has since been moved to Sunday.

Here in the Sunshine City, we have our own set of problems.

Namely, a City Council hellbent on one-upping each other — to show taxpayers that they're all smarter than Mayor Bill Foster.

The mayor's race is a way off, but it appears that several council members are already lining up for the job.

Issues like the Rays, new red-light cameras and the Pier project have all proven controversial and have led to a lot of sniping and back-biting.

Thursday's council meeting was a train wreck and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.

Surely there are better choices for leadership out there.

• • •

Long before shopping local became all the rage, residents here have supported a host of mom and pop establishments.

One such place is the landmark restaurant The Chattaway at 358 22nd Ave. S in the Old Southeast neighborhood.

The restaurant celebrated its 91st birthday Friday night with a festive gathering of food, music.

The iconic, quirky restaurant lined with big bathtub planters started as a general store in the early 1920s.

It has a legion of fans who know its one of the best spots in the city for a good hamburger.

Kudos to the owners.

• • •

Duncan McClellan Glass School Project will take center stage next week when the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Sam's Club hosts an evening of fun, food and cocktails.

Sam's Club will soon open on 34th Street S, marking the first superstore in the city.

The DMG School Project is a mobile glass lab that travels to public and private schools offering hands-on demonstrations.

Despite art being cut back at some schools, here's a positive example of a local artist having an impact on the lives of hundreds of children.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or at (727) 893-8874 and on Twitter at @StPeteSandi.

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