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.)