St. Pete Resolution Passes: Rays May Break Formerly Unbreakable Lease

Fantastic news to report for the future of major league baseball in the Tampa Bay area and the Rays. The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-3 to allow the Rays to break their lease and look for stadium in Hillsborough County.

As the article states, this was a hard fought victory for St. Petersburg Mayor Kriseman, who was elected in good part on the premise that he would end the stalemate between the Rays and the city. This was the third attempt by the mayor to negotiate an agreement.

The first attempt in December of 2014 was struck down by the council as being too unfavorable for the city. The second attempt in October 2015 passed, but the Rays struck it down as they were not willing to pay $33 million to break the lease.

This third agreement is more amenable to both parties. The Rays would have to pay $23 million to break the lease in payments. In addition, the Rays and the city would share revenue from the development of the area on which Tropicana Field stood if the Rays choose to stay in St. Petersburg. If they leave to Tampa, they forfeit they share.

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg made an appearance today to make an appeal.

“I do feel badly that all the rhetoric that has gone on over the years,” Sternberg said. “Everything has been done with good intentions. Baseball shouldn’t bring any angst other than losing a baseball game.”

This is a much better approach than the one Rays President Brian Auld took in the past, who supposedly blew the December 2014 vote by being either “tone deaf” and/or “arrogant.”

My tour of soon to be defunct stadiums continues. Hands off Montreal.

Update: This is a response to the vote from the Rays.

(Please pardon any typos! I did this super fast.)

 

23 thoughts on “St. Pete Resolution Passes: Rays May Break Formerly Unbreakable Lease

    • Stay as in St. Petersburg, the area near the Trop, Tampa, Hillsborough County?

      The agreement allows them to look in Hillsborough County which prior to this they were forbidden to do according to the terms of the lease. They can still stay in St. Petersburg and move closer to the center of the population. Their current spot is too far south in St. Pete. A move farther north, close to the first exit off the Howard Frankland Bridge, would remove a geographic and psychological barrier to the folks in Tampa. It also makes the stadium more accessible to the people of North Pinellas. Currently, it is a hike for them. There is no good highway access from North Pinellas and public transportation is largely a joke (thanks, Gov. Scott). This is where I would build it in St. Pete:
      https://www.google.com/maps/place/Derby+Lane+St+Petersburg,+10490+Gandy+Blvd+N,+St.+Petersburg,+FL+33702/@27.8643472,-82.627418,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x88c2e68b5a9da803:0x292a21515b64187d?hl=en-us

      The Derby Lane track. If you’ve seen Ocean’s 11, it’s the dog track where Brad Pitt is scene in the movie. It’s poorly attended and I believe it’s been close to closing a few times. It’s a huge plot of land and could easily hold a stadium. It’s easily accessible by I-275 and the Gandy Bridge. It’s not bad for people coming up from Sarasota/Bradenton. It’s just a few more exists. There is currently construction in the area to make Gandy Blvd bigger to withstand more traffic. That’s my pitch. (It also gets rid of a horrible institution, greyhound racing.) The Rays stay in St. Pete, collect that sweet development money, get a new stadium, move closer to the center. Oh, and there are lots of businesses in the area. Tech Data, Raymond James, Howard Templeton, and Jabil are a few located just minutes away. Young people with money.

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      • Does the deal keep them in the area though? So far as I can tell based on these blurbs, they can just leave the state if they want so long as they are willing to give up redevelopment rights to the Trop…

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  1. Not to be a party pooper but:

    The first attempt in December of 2014 was struck down by the council as being too unfavorable for the city. The second attempt in October 2015 passed, but the Rays struck it down as they were not willing to pay $33 million to break the lease.

    You gotta be shttng me. That’s chump change in MLB payroll context and the Rays are already on MLB Welfare thanks to revenue sharing. It just goes to show MLB will squeeze cities and taxpayers as much as they can get away with.

    This third agreement is more amenable to both parties. The Rays would have to pay $23 million to break the lease in payments. In addition, the Rays and the city would share revenue from the development of the area on which Tropicana Field stood if the Rays choose to stay in St. Petersburg. If they leave to Tampa, they forfeit they share.

    That $10 million dollars makes all the difference.

    Bud Selig was once quoted as saying that the Rays definitely needed a new stadium. Well then the owners should have gotten together, written a check and that’s it. Clearly the need for a new stadium was not so urgent as to prevent Baseball from extracting the required pound of flesh.

    Not saying that this lease was a good thing or that the Tampa Bay Ray’s situation as a baseball franchise isn’t bad as it currently stands, but the only reason we aren’t one year earlier in moving the Rays to a better tomorrow is because MLB as a whole didn’t step up to make it happen for the price of One Ryan Howard Season.

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    • I’m probably missing something important that I’m not able to glean from any news reports. You weren’t willing to pay $33 MM to potentially get out of an awful stadium situation but you’re willing to pay $23 MM? I’m still scratching my head.

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      • $33 million > $23 million 🙂 The Rays are miserly. I mean, most teams pay more for that in annual salary for a great player.

        Also, I’m not sure how the $33 million was supposed to be paid, but I know the $23 mil is in annual installments. In addition, the prior deal did not include the $500 million (potentially worth that amount) incentive for the Rays to stay in St. Petersburg from shared revenue from the development of the 85 acres formerly known as Tropicana Field. I know that was a big sticking point.

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