Hagan says Rays stadium issue "borderline dire"

Published Aug. 15, 2013

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, who has been active in seeking to position his county as an option for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium, said the situation has become "borderline dire."

He was reacting to comments made by baseball commissioner Bud Selig Thursday indicating that talks between the team and St. Petersburg city officials have bogged down and suggesting it may be time for the league to get involved.

"It reaffirms what Mr. (Stuart) Sternberg stated during his (Hillsborough) County Commission presentation in January and it is a reflection of what I've stated for over three years," Hagan said. "There exists a sense of urgency to resolve this issue. The sense of urgency is real. It's borderline dire."

That said, Hagan reiterated his stated position that he believes the next step is for the St. Petersburg City Council and/or St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster to reach agreement with the Rays on terms that would allow the team to look in Hillsborough, and that could be take weeks.

In the meantime, he had a meeting Thursday morning with County Administrator Mike Merrill and County Attorney Chip Fletcher to begin plotting Hillsborough's course of action. He said the discussion was general and ranged from discussing what organizations should be participants in a committee he hopes to form to serve as a go-between between Hillsborough officials and the Rays. The discussion also touched on upcoming talks between the county and city of Tampa about renewing redevelopment areas and special taxing districts, one of which includes downtown Tampa and areas sometimes discussed as prospective stadium locations.

Part of the discussion focused on the state's sunshine law and ensuring that any committee created doesn't include members whose participation would trigger open meeting requirements because they serve on other boards together. Hagan said he doesn't believe that will be a problem.