Hillsborough Commission invites Tampa Bay Rays to public meeting to talk about their future listen08/02/12 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Hillsborough County Commissioners voted Thursday to invite the Tampa Bay Rays to a public meeting to talk about their long term plans. The major league baseball team has made it clear they want to move to a new stadium, despite being under contract with the City of St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field for another decade and a half. Some politicians in Tampa and Hillsborough County, like Commissioner Ken Hagan, want to consider the possibilities of luring the Rays across the Bay.
The view that speaking with the Rays isnâ€™t legally interfering in their contract with St. Pete is backed up in a letter written Tuesday by the countyâ€™s managing attorney Robert Brazel.
The commissioners did vote, 5-2, to invite the Rays for a discussion. Kevin Beckner and Al Higgenbotham voted against the idea. Even though he supported the invitation, Commissioner Les Miller predicts that if Hillsborough County brings up the idea of a taxpayer funded stadium for the Rays it will be the â€œnail in the coffinâ€ to turn the public against the idea.
One member of the public spoke on the stadium issue. Community activist Marilyn Smith opposes Hillsborough getting involved in wooing the Rays from St. Petersburg.
Commissioner Victor Crist suggested ideas for people who could serve as the countyâ€™s point person in discussions with the Rays and with other communities in the Bay area, but Ken Hagan was clear he wants to take the reins.
"I would expect it to be me.â€
Read the letter and agenda item here: