ST. PETERSBURG — After Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg explained why he wants his team to play a split-season with Montreal, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman issued a statement that shows he and the team are very far apart on this issue.
In fact, their relationship appears strained.
“If Mr. Sternberg wishes to formally explore this concept with me and his desire to privately and fully fund a new stadium in the City of St. Petersburg, I am willing to listen. The City of St. Petersburg will not participate in the funding of a new stadium for a part-time team. We remain receptive to partnering with the Tampa Bay Rays to redevelop the Tropicana Field site and build a new stadium for a full-time team. St. Pete’s future has never been brighter and every business and baseball team in America should want to be a part of it.
The mayor also added this: "Finally, I believe progress moves at the speed of the trust. If Mr. Sternberg is serious about this idea or any other, it will require the reestablishment of a good working relationship with my office.”
Later in the day, Kriseman took to Twitter and encouraged fans to keep supporting the Rays — on the field, that is.
City Council member Darden Rice texted this statement to the Tampa Bay Times:
“The Rays very well understand the legal underpinnings of the use agreement. I’ve been open minded before when I supported the (memorandum of understanding) to look throughout Tampa Bay. I will continue to keep an open mind to other solutions proposed. The Rays haven’t provided any details as to what they have in mind for a smaller, open stadium. Those details obviously have to be discussed. The most important thing is to figure out a way to keep the Rays committed here beyond 2027.”
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who may enter the St. Petersburg mayoral contest in 2021, said in a text that Sternberg’s comments didn’t sway him.
“I didn’t hear anything that changed my initial reaction. I agree that the Rays need a modern, right-sized, accessible community ball park. I don’t agree that splitting our home-team designation with Montreal is the answer, or that an outdoor stadium works for even half the season (have you been outside today? It’s brutally hot).”