St. Pete City Council rejects deal for Rays to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas

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This is St. Pete city council voting down an agreement between Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays that would have allowed the team to explore possible stadium locations in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.

The vote Thursday night was 5-3 against the deal.

One of the reasons the measure failed is a clause in the original contract with the Rays that requires the city to split revenue from any development on the Tropicana Field site with the baseball team. Council member Jim Kennedy lambasted Rays president Brian Auld for being unwilling to wave that right if the team decides to pack its bags.

Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to the development concerns with a statement Friday saying, “the City retains one-hundred percent of all development rights once the Rays leave Tropicana Field.” However, his clarification doesn’t address possible shared revenue with the Rays before they leave.

City council members were also concerned there was a lack of certainty that the Rays would stay in Tampa Bay even if they were allowed to search other possible sites in the two-county region. Council member Amy Foster pointed out that though Rays president Auld told the public the Rays were committed to staying local, that’s not what he told her during a private meeting. Auld responded to her request to elaborate.

Auld served as the sole spokesperson for the Rays last night. Rays principle owner Stuart Sternberg was not at the meeting. Sternberg wants to explore other stadium options because the Rays are struggling with some of the worst attendance in the league. City Council member Bill Dudley implied Sternberg’s argument was a bit hypocritical.

Where the team goes from here is not yet clear. Kriseman said he didn’t have plans to immediately meet with the team and told reporters he doubts any future deal would be any better for the city than this one.