Now, the lawyers take the field | June 23
Try a little stadium statesmanship
As stadium developments become more crisply defined, I am reminded of the maxim: "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."
The issue involves a lease agreement, so the solution must be a legal one. In this approach, success is defined as coming close to break-even after consuming considerable sums of St. Petersburg taxpayer money diverted from essential city services.
I recall a statement by mayoral candidate Bill Foster, to wit: "Teams break contracts all the time and no telling how nasty a lawsuit could be. In the meantime, we would be spending a lot of time and money litigating against one of our partners." Well, here we are.
I believe that other options exist, at far less cost and with far brighter prospects. Perhaps we could constitute a team to concretely define and market a Gateway stadium as an optimum choice (without repeating the regional antagonism of the early 1980s).
Maybe Bill Foster and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio could chat about forming a regional council to sift options and rally sponsorships within a constraint of best outcome — legal, political, financial — for all stakeholders. It just seems that statesmanship would be vastly more productive than adversarial legal processes.
G.T. Kaszer, St. Petersburg
Businesses consider life without Rays June 24, story
Time to say goodbye
Dear Rays owners:
You know what, guys? Just go! Enough already, please. I'm tired of your whining, finagling, threatening. I've watched the saga since the early '80s when St. Petersburg pleaded/prayed for a franchise. I cheered when we got one. I remained loyal while we occupied the cellar. I made no apologies about forsaking my childhood favorites, the Red Sox, to root for the home team. I reveled with so many others as we got close to the "whole thing," a few seasons back … but you don't need a new stadium. If you win, they will come, regardless of where you play. We've seen it … once.
I go to home games, and not just the popular ones. I watch on TV, and listen on the car radio. I cheer, I scream, I hope. Yet, it seems that baseball is no longer America's pastime. It's been replaced by blaming, excuses and waste. Tampa Bay has bigger fish to fry, or should I say de-oil, these days. So take your ball and go to some other home. Be a good sport and break your contract. Let some other city put up with your bellyaching. I've had enough.
Will I miss you? Yes, for a little while. But that's okay. I'll drown my sorrow in a beer at Ferg's.
Deb Raby, St. Pete Beach
Rays stadium debate
Making the rich richer
It seems clear from Stuart Sternberg's recent comments that he does not want the Rays to stay in St. Petersburg. I can't blame him. They are currently one of the best teams in baseball, their ticket prices are not unreasonable and yet their game attendance is terrible. But it's not just the Rays. The Lightning and the Bucs also have dwindling attendance and little community support. Bay area residents spend far more on the arts and cultural events than they do on sports. Surely Sternberg's pre-purchase market studies should have shown that.
As several noted sports writers, including Peter Gammons, have pointed out, it is highly debatable whether Florida is a major league state at all. In the 1980s, Major League Baseball even advised St. Petersburg not to build a stadium. Certainly, as a former Wall Street money manager, Sternberg and his equally financially savvy partners must have researched all this very carefully. And yet, after buying the team and then putting the citizens of St. Petersburg through an emotional and financial wringer with his idea of a stadium on the city's waterfront, he now says that "baseball will not work long-term in downtown St. Petersburg." One has to wonder what has changed to make him draw that conclusion.
Last year the average attendance at a Ray's game represented less than 10 percent of our city's population. And, obviously, many of those 23,147 people do not live in St. Petersburg. Yet Sternberg seems to expect everyone in this town to give the Rays — his private corporation — our hard-earned tax dollars to build a new stadium.
About the only thing a new stadium will change would be the value of his team. Then, when he sells the Rays, he'll make a handsome profit. Others have done it; one cannot not blame him for trying. But I'm not so sure those residents of St. Petersburg who do not go to games will agree to making Sternburg wealthier courtesy of our money.
Faith Andrews Bedford, St. Petersburg
New pets on the block | June 22, BayLink
Small pet considerations
Thank you for printing an article on smaller pets' needs. It was especially valuable to include upkeep costs, since pets that are initially cheap can still require expensive vet care.
However, frogs' cages should be cleaned at least every three or four days, not weekly, and even small frogs need substantial cage space. Overcrowded frogs can easily become infected with diseases like red leg. Buying your frogs a larger cage to begin with is much cheaper than paying for treatment and much healthier for the frog. Also, frogs of different species should never be caged together without research: some, like fire-bellied toads, are toxic and will kill other species.
Properly cared-for pets are never low maintenance. Birds' cage liners sometimes need to be cleaned daily or more, and some leopard geckos and bearded dragons enjoy being handled. Even though frogs shouldn't be handled often, they can still leave the cage occasionally in regular-sized or miniature hamster balls — the frog gets exercise and the human gets to interact safely with the pet.
It's also important to get medical checkups for any pet and be able to find a vet immediately in an emergency. In Tampa, exotic pet veterinarians at VCA Tampa Bay Animal Hospital and Florida Veterinary Specialists can treat reptiles, amphibians and birds; don't automatically give your pet up for dead if it gets sick, though it's especially important to respond quickly to illness or injury in smaller pets.
Kathryn Dorn, Tampa
Jewish genius | June 21, letter
Learning is valued
Although not Jewish, I believe myself qualified to respond to the letter writer's statistical evidence that Jews are overly represented among people of intelligence — having lived among Jews and gone to school with them from first grade through college in New York City, which has the largest population of Jewish people outside of Israel — and able to address the "great question" of how and when this elevated Jewish IQ came about.
While I've seen no evidence that Jews are born brainier than other ethnic groups, there is much evidence that no other culture matches Jewish respect for education and learning. Jewish parents send their children to school prepared for the work of learning. It's that simple.
Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg