Advertisement
  1. News

Mayor Rick Kriseman makes his pitch for Tampa Bay Rays to stay put in St. Petersburg (w/video)

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday unveiled the city's familiar proposal for keeping the Tampa Bay Rays playing in the city, in a new stadium. This artist's rendering shows the proposed development that would rise around a new stadium on the existing 85-acre footprint of Tropicana Field. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
Published Apr. 6, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Shortly before throwing out the first pitch at Tropicana Field on Wednesday evening, Mayor Rick Kriseman made a much more important pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays: Stay put.

Kriseman and other officials gathered across the street at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill to tout a glossy 43-page report the city prepared for the team outlining why the 85-acre Trop site is the best place in the Tampa Bay region to build a new baseball stadium. Most of the city's talking points have been discussed before.

The city's future is "a littler brighter now," the mayor said, now that the team has St. Petersburg's formal response to the Rays' wish list.

"We told the Rays that their forever place is right here in St. Petersburg," Kriseman shouted to screaming fans before Wednesday's game against the Yankees. "That's what this was all about."

The city highlighted the advantages of staying put: traffic is worse in Tampa, and the team could potentially share in a cash bonanza by choosing to stay at the Trop and split the site's lucrative development rights. It also included letters of support from 15 local companies, including Duke Energy, Bayfront Health, HSN, Crown Automotive, Nielsen, Raymond James, Great Bay Distributors, Ceridian and the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club.

But the report lacked any financial details on how Kriseman plans to entice the team to stay. The mayor has said he doesn't want to negotiate publicly by specifying how the city might pay its share of the cost for the new ballpark, estimated to cost at least $600 million. He stressed that time will come once the team commits to the Sunshine City.

"We have more pots of money available to us in St. Petersburg," Kriseman said, referring to his rival Rays' suitors across the bay, Tampa and Hillsborough County.

"We are thankful for Mayor Kriseman's leadership and vision for the City of St. Petersburg," said the Rays in a prepared statement. "We appreciate the time and dedication that he, the City, the St. Petersburg Chamber and Baseball Forever have committed to this effort."

The report was a culmination of a year's work from the city's Baseball Forever campaign, a joint effort of Kriseman's administration and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. City officials presented their report to the Rays earlier Wednesday at the Trop and the mayor described their meeting as "very positive." He said team officials seemed surprised the report contained so much data aimed at meeting the team's requirements.

The mayor urged fans to step up and show their support for the Rays by buying more tickets and encouraging family and friends to fill stadium seats this season. The city needs to "show them love now," he added.

As Kool & The Gang's Celebration shook the bar, Kriseman lobbed balls to cheering fans.

The Rays' contract to play in St. Petersburg runs until 2027. But last year Kriseman championed a deal that allows the team to look outside the city until January 2019. However, efforts to find the Rays a stadium site on the Tampa side of the bay have stalled a bit.

Last month Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he was optimistic the team will find a new home in the bay area but that search is taking longer than anticipated. He hopes to identify that site by the end of the year.

The city's plan is available at baseballforever.com.

Contact Mark Puente at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-2996. Follow@MarkPuente. Contact Charlie Frago at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727)893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love hired Elle Resources as the agency's media and communications firm in 2018. The firm, owned by Michelle Ligon, was paid $5,000 every month, twice the limit on the fixed-price contract, a review by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development found. The review found eight violations of federal regulations and the federal agency has given the Housing Authority until Oct. 29 to explain the violations and come up with a corrective action plan.
    A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development review finds eight violations of federal rules at the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, including “serious lapses” in the award and payment of...
  2. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
A man uses the bike lane on 1st Ave S on Friday, July 13, 2018. St. Petersburg plans to resurface Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street from Fifth Ave. N to 34th Ave. N later this year.  [TIMES (2018)]  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The crash happened on a stretch of roadway the city has worked to make safer for bikers and pedestrians.
  3. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    One woman, 82, was crossing 50th Street, and the other, 58, was struck on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
  4. In this Sept. 13, 2019 file photo, young climate activists march with signs during a rally near the White House in Washington. At left is the Washington Monument. In late September 2019, there will be climate strikes, climate summits, climate debates, a dire climate science report, climate pledges by countries and businesses, promises of climate financial help and more. There will even be a bit of climate poetry, film and music. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    Organizers expect millions to take part in marches, rallies and sit-ins for what could be the largest ever mass mobilization on climate issues.
  5. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  6. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  7. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said the deputy intentionally struck a car to keep up from spinning into oncoming traffic along Curlew Road.
  8. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    A seriously injured man found near Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street died at a hospital, police said.
  9. Erik Maltais took an unconventional path to becoming CEO of Immertec, a virtual reality company aimed at training physicians remotely. He dropped out of school as a teenager, served in Iraq in the Marine Corps and eventually found his way to Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Software from Immertec can bring physicians into an operating room thousands of miles away.
  10. Hurricane Jerry is expected to begin moving to the north on Saturday. A tropical wave is expected to develop off the coast of Africa over the weekend. National Hurricane Center
    The system is expected to produce heavy rainfall and flash floods in the eastern Caribbean.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement