Rezoning could kill Rays' ballfield plan

07/10/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The St. Pete City Council began the process today of making it harder for the Tampa Bay Rays to ever build a stadium on waterfront property.

Last month, the team announced it was killing its plan for a a $450-million referendum for a ballpark at the current site of Progress Energy Park at Al Lang Field.

The Rays say they will try again, and say nothing’s off the table in terms of a new site to replace Tropicana Field.

But Councilman Jeff Danner went ahead today with a resolution that would start the process of designating Al Lang as park land.

City Councilman Bill Dudley seconded Danner’s motion, but asked City Attorney John Wolfe if it was even necessary.

The rest of the City Council seemed to be in general agreement on the issue, except for Wengay Newton, who said it would be shortsighted and unfair to the Rays to take any potential sites for a new park off the table.

Council Chair Jamie Bennett said the last seven months have been arduous and contentions, as the city seemed to be divided about whether it was appropriate to even have a vote on the new stadium. After the Rays threw in the towel on getting anything done in 2008, Bennett said it was important for the Council to leave a legacy.

The resolution passed 7-1, with only Newton dissenting.

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