St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster wrote a letter to Stuart Sternberg in response to Sternberg’s recent call for a regional solution to a new Rays stadium.

The highlights:

  • “I do agree that the Rays are a “regional asset”, and will work tirelessly with the political and business leaders of Tampa Bay in support of this club. However, there is no resident of the entire region who has given up more in this quest for baseball than the resident of St. Ptersburg and Pinellas County. The taxpaying residents of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Major League Baseball and the Rays, and above all else, their interests will always come first.”
  • “Let me be clear – we will consider any potential ballpark site in St. Ptersburg and the Gateway, but only as part of a process that recognizes and rewards the previous and ongoing investment and commitment of the St. Petersburg and Pinellas County resident, and thus, no sites outside of our geographic boundaries will be considered.”

The big point here is that the city of St. Pete feels moving the Rays to Tampa will be more damaging than any money still owed on the contract. And if this does go to court, the city is going to seek much, much more than what is still owed to them.

And no matter where you feel the Rays should be playing, it is hard to argue with the city on that matter.

Click through to 10Connects.com to read the full leter [10Connects]

 
 

17 Comments

  1. Aaron says:

    what selfishness.

  2. Mike says:

    This thing is starting to get ugly..

  3. Thad says:

    SOUNDS ugly, but Foster is just posturing to get the most money he can in a settlement. The legal beagles will tell you that the “contract” means nothing if Rays can prove that their business is actually suffering from its current location and I think they have plenty of ammo for that. Including, but not limited to, the bountiful transition the Bolts made 13 years ago to come to Tampa from the Thunder Dome. It’s like a non-compete agreement: sounds great in principle, but very hard to enforce. The Rays will be able to go wherever they want to go at the reasonable cost of compensation to St. Pete.

  4. Michael says:

    Just because they might seek “much, much more than what is owed to them” doesn’t mean they will or should receive much more. How exactly does that work? Are they going to claim ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress’ or something? Get real.

    This is why St. Petersburg deserves to be shat on:

    1) No one forced them to build the Trop or promised them anything if they did. In fact, then-commissioner Peter Uberoth specifically told them not to build the Trop without a tenant, as he knew every team seeking a new ballpark would use the St Pete as a pawn. Which was exactly what happened.

    2) They built the Trop on the cheap. It was a half-assed stadium when it was first built, and by the time the first game was played there in 1998 Camden Yards and Jacobs Park had been opened and the Trop was obsolete and easily one of the worst 5 stadiums in baseball. I’m no Trop hater but if you visit a real park like Safeco Field or PNC Park there’s no comparison.

    3) St. Petersburg has proven over the last 12 years that they either can’t or won’t support the team properly. Insert everybody’s favorite 10 million excuses here but the facts that have shown themselves over the last 3 years are indisputable.

    4) If the Trop were never built and the Rays had never existed, let’s pretend this area were awarded an expansion team tomorrow and had to pick a site for a new stadium. I’m pretty sure the ghetto of St. Pete would be somewhere around 10 – 12 on the list of places to build a ballpark.

    I agree that the Gateway area seems like it could be a pretty decent spot and needs to be considered along with downtown Tampa and the Fairgrounds. Ultimately, maybe that’s the they end up and maybe it will work out just great. But when the Rays under Stu Sternberg have done absolutely everything they can do to make attending a game attractive and it hasn’t worked for any number of reasons, it seems like the City isn’t living up to their end of the bargain and shouldn’t be owed an extra dime.

    I’d love to read an example of anyone can cite one of a city/county/state being awarded tons of cash, especially above and beyond what they’re owed in a written agreement, when a team has moved. We’ve seen dozens of teams for the four major sports move cities over the past few decades, so surely there’s an example somewhere. Right?

    • Martin B says:

      The City has absolutely lived up to its end of the bargain. The use agreement calls for the city to give the Rays usage rights of the Trop.

      Please point out what point of the agreement the city is not living up to or stop being such a blowhard with no facts.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Keep in mind that most teams are paying rent. That’s not the case here. The use-agreement contract makes the Rays and St. Pete business partners. THAT is why the city will seek more and why some think a judge will give it to them.

    • Carey says:

      I agree with everything here except considering the Fairgrounds as a possible site. Horrible. Just the flip side of the same coin we have now:

      1. We trade St. Pete’s black ghetto for Hillsborough’s white ghetto.
      2. On the far EAST side of the market. As inconvenient for Pinellas residents as Trop is for most Hillsborough residents. Also, everyone outside of Brandon and New Tampa to navigate one of the worst traffic cluster-f–ks in the area (I-4/I-275 Interchange). And please spare me the “it’s more convenient for Orlando” crap. We don’t build stadiums for Tampa Bay teams with freakin’ Orlando residents in mind.

      Additionally, what many forget is that the Top is ONLY convenient for Pinellas residents south of East Bay/Ulmerton and people in Bradenton. That is never mentioned, but it is just as big a pain in the arse to get to the Trop from Palm Harbor as it is for most people in Hillsborough.

      This has never been a Pinellas vs. Hillsborough thing. It’s a St. Pete vs. Everyone Else thing. And I’m sorry St. Pete, but you blew it. You had a chance to build a stadium on the best piece of real estate (asthetically, at least) for this purpose in the area and the idea was soooo unpopular that you couldn’t even get it on a ballot.

      Hear that Foster and City Council: YOUR OWN F–KING CONSTITUANTS DON’T WANT TO BUILD A STADIUM!!!!! ARE YOU F–KING DENSE!!!!!

      This guy makes me embarrassed to be an Old-Northeast born and raised St. Pete cracker.

      I

  5. Mark says:

    Unless Sternberg just gives in, this isn’t going to end well.

  6. John G says:

    Thad has it correctly. Thad are you an attorney? Well speaking as one, Thad is 100% correct.

    St. Pete will be hard pressed to really have a case. The Rays business is suffering from that location, stadium, etc. Thad is correct in that even a couple pieces of evidence would have this contract nullified. The stadium is one of the worst, if not the worst in MLB. The location, as much as St. Pete not like to accept, is out of the way from the great majority of people. It is connected by 3 bridges and 1 of those bridges connects them to Yankee and Red Sox retirement village (aka Sarasota/Bradenton). The Rays will show the population map and St. Pete can not agrue. The Rays will also state that the more affluent are in Tampa. There are a lot of facts that will add up like that.
    St. Pete will indeed receive compensation from the Rays. The Rays can afford that, especially with Tampa willing to pony up some of the funds (and Tampa will). It is truly unfortunate because St. Pete will be hurt, possibly too much to recover from.

    Remember we have a legal system not a justice system. And we live in a Capitalist Society, not a Socialist. Big Business with a good legal team will thrive in this type of society. I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, I am just saying this is the society that we live in.

    Unfortunately, the egos are out. People’s egos will get hurt. St. Petersburg has always been the “ugly little sister” town to Tampa. You will hear its “Tampa’s Bay”. Tampa has the money and the people. All it will require is for Tampa to flex its muscle and this will be over.

    Lets not be mistaken the Tampa Bay region needs St. Petersburg to succeed. A blow to St. Pete like this will be mind-blowing. People in Tampa better dare not complain when the team comes over and they pay a little more in taxes. Also while property values will drop due to the chain effect that will hurt the ENTIRE region by St. Petersburg downfall. The Rays move and St. Pete property values will be hurt. That hurt will come from closed businesses and shops and higher crime rates accordingly. That hurt will creep up the county and cross the bridge. The only property in that country that could (and probably will) save value will be beachfront but they are soo limited that it will not affect the rest of the region.
    It is a very scary time for the St. Pete region and they are going to desperately fight to the end. OH and to top it off, the economy and municipal governemnts in those regions are hanging on by a thread.

    • Carey says:

      I really don’t buy the last part of this at all. St. Pete’s problem (and I’m a lifelong resident) is that they have always viewed this as some kind of competition with Tampa. It’s stupid. Let Tampa have the teams, the traffic, the crime and all that comes with it. St. Pete can be the nice place to live and raise your kids. I grew up there and can tell you that there is nothing wrong with that.

      I work in Tampa and outside of South Tampa and other cloistered areas north and east of town, the place is a sewer. The traffic sucks, the downtown area is a graveyard and overall, it’s dirty and run down. Frankly, Tampa needs it more than St. Pete, which has a great waterfront, and very nice downtown that is, frankly, 10-times more adult than Ybor City. I wish we in St. Pete could be happy being what we are: A beautiful town to live in.

  7. John G says:

    And I don’t mean to scare people but I don’t really think understand the severity of the situation. A down economy with much lower property values (less tax revenue for the city and county) and historically high unemployment. And then your main attraction leaves. And you are stuck with a huge building that takes up space and money. (See Atlanta’s downfall after the Olympics for that specific example).

    In regards to the business and money being favored on one side. I have seen it firsthand with a similar instance. Between Philadelphia and Camden. Separated by a bridge and water. The businesses and major sports teams all moved and stayed on 1 side of the water. Camden is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in America and Philadlephia one of the largest and wealthiest (and one of the ugliest).

    • Carey says:

      Are you seriously saying that losing the Rays is going to affect the property values in Old Northeast, Snell Isle, etc. Sorry, but I think you’re smoking crack. I just don’t see any relation at all. I mean, based on attendance alone, it’s not as if having the Rays at the Trop increased the desirability of St. Pete as a place to live. If someone wants to buy a house in St. Pete, I really don’t see where having the Rays nearby or not has any effect. Now, oil on the beaches? That might be a problem. Losing the baseball team (which only went 20 miles away, tops), if anything, would only be a minimal factor.

  8. Bobby Fenton says:

    [And no matter where you feel the Rays should be playing, it is hard to argue with the city on that matter.]

    Disagree.

    At first, all St. Pete could say was “Contract contract contract contract aaaaahhhhh” and they dismissed any notion the Rays may have had of “getting around it” by simply paying the money off.

    Now they are saying: “We don’t care what the contract says, it doesn’t do our interests enough justice so screw what it says, we will go to court to ‘get around it’ and get more money.”

    I thought it was all about the contract. Build a stadium yourself or let the Rays pay their penalty.

    • Joe says:

      The million dollar question is we don’t know what was said between Stuart Sternberg and Mayor Foster. If we, us bloggers and caring fans, know all the details, we could make a much better and informed conclusion. I don’t like the fact no one was upfront here, and both sides have something to gain by spinning their stories.

      In a vacuum, Bobby is right, and he may very well be right regardless. However why did the Rays negotiate for the downtown waterfront park to begin with? Was it a legitimate attempt to build or a “checkmark” just to put on their side of the ledger already knowing they would be going before a judge?

      • Joe says:

        In the end, the city will be made “whole” with some sort of compensation. What that will be would probably be made by a judge, jury or some sort of forced mediation. But it is a “use” agreement, and thus the Rays have to compensate.

        But this does not give St. Petersburg eternal rights to hold the Rays forever! It may be too soon to discuss this, but unfortunately we are at this moment

  9. Brian says:

    Holy crap. This is probably the best comment thread posted on Rays Index in some time.

    No long post here. My vote is to move the team to the channelside district of Tampa. Tampa funded a new stadium for the Bucs and the rest is history. Go Rays!

    P.S. – I will be making my first visit to Target field next week to watch our Rays battle the Twins. Perhaps Minneapolis can provide some insight on how to approach our fight. St. Paul is the red headed step child of Minneapolis…..remind us of anything?

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