1. St. Petersburg

It's official: Tampa Bay Rays tell St. Petersburg they are finished looking elsewhere, for now

DIRK SHADD | Times A view of Tropicana Field, the current home of the Tampa Bay Rays, with the city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay in the background Tuesday evening (12/18/18). The Rays have sent St. Pete formal notice that they will no longer look outside for a stadium. They were required to do this by Dec. 31.
Published Dec. 18, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays are staying in St. Petersburg — for now.

The team sent a two-sentence letter to Mayor Rick Kriseman on Monday formally notifying him that it will not seek to extend the agreement that allowed it to explore a new stadium site in Hillsborough County. The three-year looking period St. Petersburg granted the team to research stadium options throughout Tampa Bay is officially over with no deal in place.

The letter follows a similar announcement Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg made last week at Major League Baseball's winter meetings in Las Vegas. He said the team was dropping its bid to relocated to a site in Ybor City, where it hoped to build a $900 million domed stadium with a translucent roof that Tampa officials thought would connect downtown and the Channel District to the historic Cuban neighborhood.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rays reject Ybor City stadium, remain committed to Tampa Bay

The team remains mum on its future and has not signaled that it's interested in pursuing a new stadium in St. Petersburg. At this point, the only contract the Rays are bound to honor is the one that states the team must play in Tropicana Field until 2027.After that, where the Rays choose to play their home games is as uncertain as ever. The letter offers no clarity on that. The letter does appear to eliminate the possibility, however, that last week's announcement was a leverage play designed to get a better deal in Hillsborough.

That's little solace for those who want to see the team remain local.

"I don't have a sense of relief," said St. Petersburg City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes, who said he'd rather see the team find a long-term home in Pinellas County, but would also rather the team stay in the Tampa Bay area than leave altogether. "It's not time to be relieved, it's time to make sure they stay here for a long time."

He added: "I want them to find a place where they can keep 'TB' on their hats for a long time."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Tampa Bay Rays stadium options now largely in St. Pete

St. Petersburg City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch confirmed that with the Rays' formal "decision notice" filed, the agreement between the city and team by which the team could explore stadium options elsewhere is terminated. With it expired, the team must abide by the rules set forth in its Tropicana Field agreement, which stipulates the team must play its home games there until 2027 and cannot negotiate with any municipality about playing home games elsewhere until then.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who has led the public effort to land an Ybor City ballpark, said Tuesday that he's not worried about the letter.

"I don't think it's a very big deal at all," Hagan said. "We were not expecting any last-minute Hail Marys."

Hagan said Hillsborough officials will continue to add details to the the Ybor project as requested last week by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

But Hagan said it's now up to the Rays to decide if they can make a go of it in a city that has hosted the team for 20 years.

"The ball is clearly in their court," he said. "We will not negotiate against ourselves."

ROMANO: For Rays, stadium deal isn't personal, it's just ruthless baseball business

St. Petersburg officials have said if the Rays want to reignite the Ybor discussion, it would require a new legal agreement. Gerdes said the price of such a request could mean the team give up potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in development rights it currently has over the 85-acre Tropicana Field site.

"Clearly, there remain some elected officials in St. Pete that don't see the big picture," Hagan said when asked about Gerdes' comments. Hagan said the team and Manfred have made it clear over the years that they don't consider the Sunshine City to be a viable location for the team after its Tropicana Frield agreement expires in 2027.

"They've already lost an enormous amount of revenue and economic development by not developing the Trop site. Hopefully, they will see the light."

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @ByJoshSolomon. Contact Charlie Frago at or (727)-893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago.


  1. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  2. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  3. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  4. The city is accepting applications for its Commercial Revitalization Program. The city has allocated $175,000 for the program this year.
  5. Plans for the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District Board of Commissioners referendum March 12 call for a $100 increase in the annual assessment for single-family units. Tom Germond
    The winner will fill the seat of a board member who moved.
  6. The Florida Association of Museums has named St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman its Outstanding Public Official for 2019.
    The organization recognizes those who contribute to the museum profession.
  7. The Walmart supercenter at 990 Missouri Ave. faced fines in December for these storage containers in the parking lot. City officials are debating whether to make a short-term arrangement with the city two’s Largo stores this year so they can store their holiday inventory. City of Largo
    In the end, city commissioners say yes, with some reservations.
  8. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
    The work is expected to be complete by spring 2021.
  9. 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...
  10. A man uses the bike lane on First Avenue S in 2018. A bicyclist was struck and killed while using the crosswalk in the 2800 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Street N, where the city installed new bike lanes. [TIMES (2018)]  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The crash took place on a stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N the city has tried to make safer to bike and walk on.