Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A welcome thaw in baseball's cold war

Perhaps there is a ray of hope, or maybe it was just a nice summer night in Boston's Fenway Park and a pennant race that triggered Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg's optimism. Regardless, Sternberg's upbeat assessment of his private stadium talks with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster offer some hope of breaking a stalemate that has lasted too long. There are options that protect the city's interests and preserve Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay, and it is time to move forward.

Sternberg spoke in broad terms about the discussions and was careful not to break an agreement with the mayor to avoid negotiating in public. But the outlines of one possible compromise that would let the Rays study potential stadium sites in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have been clear for months. In general, the Rays would agree to thoroughly evaluate a proposed stadium in St. Petersburg's Carillon Business Park and then have an opportunity to examine sites in Tampa. There may be other options on the table as well. But the overall goal should be clear: Acknowledge the reality that the Rays will not be playing at Tropicana Field until their lease expires in 2027, find the best spot for a new stadium, and keep the franchise in Tampa Bay.

There has been no public movement on the stadium issue since Foster took office 3 1/2 years ago, despite his acknowledgement during his first campaign that the next mayor would have to address it. So a more upbeat outlook by Sternberg and Foster's willingness to negotiate take on greater significance. This is a positive acknowledgement by City Hall that standing still and clinging to the long-term lease is not a long-term strategy that benefits the city.

There is a greater sense of urgency to move ahead on the stadium issue than there was four years ago. The team has continued to play well on the field, but attendance remains among the worst in baseball even as the economy is recovering. County commissioners in Pinellas and Hillsborough are eager to move forward, and there are other Pinellas interests that are clamoring for a share of the resort tax money that will be free when the stadium bonds are paid off. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's interest has helped highlight the issue. So have efforts by St. Petersburg City Council member Charlie Gerdes and a few of his colleagues to force some movement. Sternberg says other team owners are growing impatient, and baseball commissioner Bud Selig's annual warning about the need for a new stadium sounded sharper than usual.

If there is any doubt that a baseball franchise benefits a region and its stature, consider this: When Tampa International Airport was successfully wooing an airline based in Panama City, Panama, to add flights here, one airline executive was taken to a Rays game and others were given jerseys with their names on the back.

Foster and Sternberg should keep negotiating in good faith. There are options for a reasonable compromise that allows the Rays to look in both counties for stadium sites, protects St. Petersburg's financial interest, and guarantees the franchise will remain in Tampa Bay for decades to come.

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Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Natureís Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. ē The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18