St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster indicated yesterday that the city is indeed willing to have the Rays move outside of the St. Pete city limits. Just as long as they don’t stray too far

“It’s not a new twist, but it demonstrates our willingness to consider other properties,” Foster said…Foster emphasized that he prefers property for a new stadium to be in the city. However, he said that if a property abuts city limits, it could be considered under his proposal…”It’s probably very unlikely that it would go into unincorporated, but if a property happens to be outside, we could annex it into the city,” Foster said…Foster pointed to property in the Gateway area, which is off of the Howard Frankland Bridge, as an example.

Few people will be surprised by these comments, but this rhetoric does seem a bit dangerous. Politicians rarely speak in absolutes unless necessary, and when they do, it can be very dangerous to their careers to ever change their minds. In this case, Mayor Foster has now officially drawn the line in the sand. And unless he is willing to change his mind at some point, this move may have eliminated the slim hopes that the Rays could have negotiated their way out of Pinellas County.

As we have said all along, this is going to get uglier before it gets better.

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14 Comments

  1. Martin B says:

    While I generally don't like Mayor Foster, I applaud his defense of St. Petersburg.

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    • Brian H says:

      I do as well, applaud foster. seems like tampa is a pipe dream, given the lease and most importantly tampas lack of ANY public funds. Private money just doesnt seem possible to me. but i guess that was sternberg was alluding to, "let us see if it is possible and the best alternative"

      I am a pinellas guy, so i am biased. But to me seems if you are looking at tampa bay area as a unit, seems better to keep diversified through out the community. St petersburg needs the rays in my opinion even if its under annex.

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      • Michael says:

        I could have never guess you were from Pinellas by your English skills. Do you guys have schools over there? Your reply was painful to read.

        The Rays need Tampa, end of story.

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        • Beth says:

          Oh really, Michael, need you make this so hostile? Seriously, if the Rays are looking to move to a place where the population has top notch academic skills they'd have to move out of Florida altogether.

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          • Don says:

            If you want "top notch academic skills" maybe you could move out of state??( where is this place anyway...up north?)
            If you want to watch the Rays play baseball..... move to north Pinellas..this was the first (verbal) move for Foster to start the wheels in motion....Book it.... Brian here's another chance.... to try to catch me!

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          • KillaTapes says:

            Not to mention Michael's post was grammatically incorrect as well:
            "I could have never guess you were from Pinellas".

            Way to prove a point, bud.

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        • Brian H says:

          What a guy. Man, I was in a rush at work and made some errors.

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    • Gus says:

      Derby Lane (mentioned by Foster) has always made sense to me.

      1. It is a dying business, and the family who owns it may want out (or swap them the Trop site to keep a pari-mutel/casino license going in a location closer to the beach and the tourists).

      2. Keeps it in St. Pete/Pinellas, so the revenue streams that have paid for the Trop are just switched over. As noted, Hillsborough is still tapped out paying for Sterinbrenner Field, Ray Jay and the arena.

      3. Moves it 10 minutes closer to tampa -- a psychological win for those folks on the other side of the bay. Not downtown Tampa, but better.

      4. Could be combined with the long-held dream of regional planners to turn Gandy on both sides of the bridge into a limited access highway (linking Gandy to the Selmon and I-275 without stoplights).

      5. Derby Lane neighbors can't complain too much -- they moved next to a dog track for God's sake. Dogs bark all night over there.

      6. Even a baseball history link -- most MLBers spent more time at the Derby Lane site than they did on the spring training practice fields. Good karma for any place favored by DiMaggio, Mantle, Brock and Rose.

      Personally, I don't think the location is the biggest problem. But I also want to be thinking bigger here.

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      • Edward says:

        MLB will not allow move to a location other than Hillsborough.

        The current suggestion of MLB is move it to Charlotte.

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  2. Preston says:

    You know what? I love Saint Pete, I love Pinellas County, but what I love more is this team. I don't care if it's in Tampa or Clearwater or Sarasota, just keep the team in Tampa Bay. The worst thing we could do as a community is give this team a reason to move.

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  3. Eric says:

    I just don't buy the traffic complaint about Rays games. Never had a bit of trouble getting in and out of the Trop. Downtown St. Pete is far less congested that Tampa, which can be a nightmare.

    Not that I am against a nice new outdoor stadium, where the game was meant to be played. I would love to see it happen, and Derby Lane is as good as anyplace else. I say get er done, we got a good young team to enjoy for years, if we can keep the key players together.

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    • Sarah says:

      Eric, clearly you've never been to a game that drew more than 20,000 fans. Yes, I agree, on "typical" weeknights traffic is not an issue. But try getting to a "prime" game! Traffic backs up for miles on 275. The St. Pete police who "direct" traffic are no help at keeping things moving or helping those not familiar with the area find overflow parking. I've had the experience of needing 45 minutes to get from a jammed up I-275 to the stadium because I made the mistake of trying to see the Rays play the Yankees.

      It's not rocket science -- if your stadium is on a narrow peninsula you have limited means of access and more traffic jams. You can solve this with a robust mass transit system, but we'll get a new stadium a lot faster than we'll get transit here.

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  4. Bobby Fenton says:

    The stadium needs to be in Hillsborough. Anything less is not maximization of our area's abaility to support the team.

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