TAMPA — In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Mayor-elect Jane Castor said she wants the Rays in Tampa.
Her counterpart across the bay, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has a different view. Tampa had its chance, he said. And to reopen negotiations would only weaken the Sunshine City’s leverage with the Rays. He recommended Castor bone up on his city’s use agreement with the team to keep the Rays at Tropicana Field through the 2027 season.
Kriseman said he expects to have an answer by this summer on the team’s future in St. Petersburg.
“Whether it’s me who has the conversation with her, or her staff, she has a lot to get up to speed on ... including this issue," Kriseman said Wednesday when briefed on Castor’s comments earlier in the day to the Tampa Bay Times.
Castor said the population distribution in Tampa Bay "puts the stadium, in my view, in Tampa."
"So I will do what I can to have the Rays move to Tampa. I believe the Rays are amenable to that, they want to stay in the area," Castor said. "I think we have several locations in Tampa that will be viable."
Castor and Kriseman haven’t talked since her election, but Castor said she intends to have a great working relationship with him as well as Clearwater, Pinellas and Hillsborough county governments.
She indicated that she’s considering asking Kriseman to allow Tampa or Hillsborough County to have another swing at Rays.
"That's a conversation that I think is worthwhile," she said, although with the repeated caveat that she wants to find a regional solution that would keep the team in Tampa Bay.
Any new agreement to talk to Tampa, which isn’t a part of the existing agreement, would have to be initiated by the team.
“It would require a whole new agreement. We would be looking, probably, at some different terms. For us to do it after three years have passed, it has to make sense for that to occur," Kriseman said.
Kriseman said it wouldn’t behoove the team to try its luck again in Hillsborough because it would risk losing the bed tax money Pinellas County has stockpiled for the Rays. Kriseman said Pinellas County commissioners have indicated the money won’t be there forever.
Castor holds out hope that the biggest city in the bay isn’t shut out of the final innings of the Rays ballpark saga.
“I would like to have it in Tampa,” Castor said.