It is in the interest of all of Tampa Bay for the Tampa Bay Rays to remain in the Tampa Bay area permanently. To further that interest, it is best that a new stadium be in a location that gives the Rays the best opportunity to increase attendance and maximize revenues.
In my view, a major league baseball stadium located in St. Petersburg would be akin to locating the new Yankee Stadium on the eastern end of Long Island. By major league standards, when you compare the Trop to Progressive Field in Cleveland and Miller Park in Milwaukee — where the markets are similar in size to Tampa Bay — the Trop is a dump.
If the Gateway area is determined solely by market demographics to be the best location for a new stadium, then that's where it should be. But if market demographics say it should be located in Tampa or Oldsmar or wherever, it makes no sense to spend a half billion dollars on a stadium at Gateway; nor does it make sense for the Rays to make a long-term business commitment to a second-tier location, in a second-tier market.
It's probably too much to hope for, but wouldn't it be nice if the whole of Tampa Bay could forget the parochial differences of the past and unite for the greater good?
Why not a multicounty Tampa Bay Baseball Sports Authority to fund and build a new stadium along with a substantial contribution from the Rays and Major League Baseball? Just asking!
Jerry Tidwell, Odessa
A spoiled-child attitude
I love St. Petersburg. I love the Rays. I love the relationship that the Rays and St. Pete have. But I am absolutely sick of team president Matt Silverman's arrogance and spite toward that relationship. Some 18 months ago he tried everything he could do to get the city to build him a waterfront stadium. Now he won't even consider a very generous offer from the city to renegotiate the contract.
He is acting just like a spoiled child who doesn't get his way and threatens to take all his marbles and go play somewhere else. I love attending games, but I'm finding it hard to pay him any more of my hard-earned money. If he moves the team outside of St. Petersburg I, for one, will never go see a game again.
Tim Robinson, St. Petersburg
Do what's necessary
St. Petersburg City Council is shooting itself in the foot if they continue to refuse to renegotiate the Rays contract for Tropicana Field. If the team leaves the area, all of Tampa Bay loses.
Keep them as a Tampa Bay team and we all benefit, including St. Petersburg.
Elaine Quinlan, Zephyrhills
Honor the contract
I can't believe that the Rays ownership and management do not feel the need to fulfill their contract with St. Petersburg. How unsportsmanlike.
I am sure they expect people to fulfill contracts with them.
I no longer go to games because none of us can stand the cowbells. I know a lot of folks in the same boat: They loved the Rays and going to the games in St. Pete until the cowbells started.
Why don't you get rid of the cowbells instead of the stadium?
Nancy Ambrose, Holmes Beach
The area's not ready
Let's face it, the Rays will never draw large crowds no matter where they locate in the Tampa Bay area, no matter how ritzy a stadium they build. The population of the bay area is simply insufficient to consistently draw the crowds seen in other major league cities. The fact that the New York Yankees have such a powerful fan base in Tampa just exacerbates the situation. It wouldn't surprise me to discover that the Rays draw as well as other teams if you compare the percentage of annual attendance to the population of the bay area and compare that with other larger metropolitan areas that have baseball teams.
The "I want to keep my marbles" attitude of St. Petersburg's mayor or the Rays' insistence that the entire Tampa Bay region be examined for potential stadium sites is just a waste of time. Because I love the Rays and would be heartbroken if they pull up stakes, I am making preliminary plans to move to San Antonio.
Bob MacPherson, St. Petersburg
Lawyers are warming up
And so the Rays reject St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster's olive branch.
What next? Alas it'll probably start growing pretty ugly. We are probably only a couple of innings away from the lawyers.
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
Clean energy upgrades should get a green light
During Florida's 2010 legislative session, Republican and Democrat lawmakers joined to authorize a new kind of financing program for energy retrofits on residential and commercial properties.
Called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, these are city- and county-run programs that enable property owners to invest in new clean energy technologies without taxpayer subsidies. Cities and several counties have already started to develop their own PACE programs which will support energy bill savings, green job growth, and the foundation of a new energy economy in their communities.
Yet, PACE programs are now under attack from the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), the agency that regulates mortgage lenders at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
For over a hundred years, our state, cities and counties have used tax assessments to make infrastructure improvements to schools, sidewalks and sewage systems. PACE uses that same authority for an innovative new purpose: to finance energy efficiency projects, solar power, and other cost-saving improvements for homes and businesses. Only property owners who choose to participate repay the costs of their projects through an assessment on their annual property taxes over a fixed period.
We need Congress to put the FHFA in its place. Sen. George LeMieux and his colleagues in Washington now have the opportunity to protect these innovative PACE initiatives in Florida and nationwide.
Properly administered PACE programs actually save homeowners money on their monthly utility bills, putting them in a better financial position to make their mortgage payments.
Florida's consumers, businesses and local governments are watching and waiting. It's time for Congress to act now to help get PACE — and Florida — back on the move.
Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, majority leader, Florida House of Representatives
Candidate's cry of BP link out of bounds July 18, editorial
Conflict is a concern
As a horrified nation watches daily news reports of oil washing up on our shores, it has become clear, as President Barack Obama said, that this is indeed "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." Not only is the oil spill one of the most important challenges facing Florida today, it also presents the most important legal issue facing our state's next attorney general.
In my opinion, Florida's next attorney general should not come from BP's law firm. More than two months ago, Dan Gelber's former law firm was retained to represent BP in Florida. You don't have to be a lawyer to see the potential conflict of interest when someone who worked for BP's law firm turns around and sues BP as Florida attorney general.
Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, Democratic candidate for attorney general
Climate crisis is urgent
Our country and our world are in the midst of a crisis. We have an urgent need for a change in the ways we produce and use energy, and the world is headed toward catastrophe if we don't take action.
Scientists have long known that our climate is changing due to pollution from factories, power plants and cars. Some of the effects of climate change are already apparent: The decade between 2000 and 2009 was the warmest on record. If we do nothing to stop this change, a warming planet can lead to floods, droughts and heavy storms that will make life miserable for future generations.
Fortunately, we have a solution in front of us: We can invest in clean, renewable energy that will not only reduce pollution, but also create millions of new jobs in America. Making the transition to clean energy is the right decision for our economy and the planet. We can't afford to wait.
Karen Huneke, Tampa
Tear it down and start over | July 24, editorial
Bring back old pier
Build it back the way it was: "a proud destination for residents and tourists." I couldn't have said it better. I have some thoughts and suggestions on what comes next.
I don't know how or why this inverted pyramid ever got off the drawing board. It does not speak to what St. Petersburg is all about. It resembles a carnival that has come to town; the only thing missing is the Ferris wheel.
It should be imploded and the remains of the structure used to create a solid base (not pilings) on which to build a meaningful replica of the original Municipal Pier that would last forever.
The 3,300-foot approach must be repaired. It should be the first thing to be properly restored. Additional parking areas could be added as needed on both sides of the approach near the Pier building. The new Pier building could be used in part to house some of St. Petersburg's historic attractions.
Just some thoughts and ideas.
Joseph Tonelli, St. Pete Beach
Tax cuts work | July 28, letter
We don't need a Congressional Budget Office guess about the effect of extending the Bush tax cuts, since we have already had nine years of "wait and see."
Tax cuts work? Rich folks buy property, fences and locks (Ted Turner owns 2 million acres of Western land). What jobs does that create? The government buys land for public recreation, and hires contractors to repair the national infrastructure that small businesses need. That creates jobs. Rich folks buy private education for their families, while governments educate America in crowded public schools.
Our current economy shows that borrowing money to give tax breaks to the rich will not lessen the debt by trickling down.
John Dorgan, Spring Hill