Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Fresh start on Rays talks

The St. Petersburg city election and the World Series are over. It's time to look ahead toward renewing negotiations between the city and the Tampa Bay Rays on a fair agreement that would protect taxpayers and let the team look at potential sites for a new stadium in Tampa. Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg should introduce themselves to each other, start fresh and be prepared to move forward when Kriseman takes office in January.

It took more than three years, but Mayor Bill Foster finally acknowledged the obvious this summer. Every year that clicks off the Rays' long-term agreement to play in outdated Tropicana Field without a new plan to stay in Tampa Bay means less leverage for the city and a greater chance the team eventually leaves the region. Every year the Rays continue to finish at the bottom of Major League Baseball in attendance raises questions among other baseball team owners about the viability of Tampa Bay as a big-league market.

Discussions between the city and the Rays were on a promising course before they broke down this fall in the middle of Foster's unsuccessful campaign for re-election. The Rays would pay to demolish Tropicana Field, and the city would be compensated for every year that came off the stadium lease that expires in 2027. Concerns about weakening the city's long-term agreement with the Rays by letting the team look at other sites apparently were resolved, but there was no agreement on how much money the Rays would pay in any deal.

As Tampa Bay Times staff writer Stephen Nohlgren reported Sunday, the ground is finally shifting. Kriseman will bring an open mind to the negotiations and a better understanding that keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay is the long-term goal. The business community understands the importance of approaching the issue on a regional level, and more St. Petersburg City Council members are considering ways to move forward instead of hiding behind the long-term lease as a short-term political play.

There is no one answer to resolving the stadium stalemate. It could be picking up the negotiations where Foster left off. It could be adding new elements, such as developing part of the Trop site as the Rays begin to examine their options. And any movement forward could be reassessed as mass transit options on both sides of the bay — and spanning the bay — become clearer. A 2014 transit referendum in Pinellas could bring a light rail stop to the Trop site, and an aggressive effort to push for rail along a new span of the Howard Frankland Bridge would affect stadium discussions in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

What is clear is that there should be a new sense of urgency to moving forward on the stadium discussions and reaching a reasonable agreement between St. Petersburg and the Rays. Four years have been wasted, and neither the city nor the region can waste another four years watching the calendar.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17