We have long speculated that the one way the Rays may be able to get out of their Tropicana Field contract, would be to file bankruptcy. Apparently this worries the city of St. Pete also.
In preparation for a stadium battle that could ultimately end up in the courts, the City of St. Pete has hired a law firm, Brown Rudnick LLP. And the contract between the law firm and the city was penned by a bankruptcy lawyer.
The city is concerned that the Rays might file bankruptcy as a way to get out of its stadium contract, City Attorney John Wolfe said. The city has no evidence the team is planning to do that, though, he said…Bankruptcy has “been mentioned in various articles as one of the possibilities, and we want to have a lawyer ready to go in the event the Rays decide they no longer want to honor their contract,” Wolfe said.
Michael Sasso of the Tampa Tribune spoke with a lawyer that represented the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes in their bankruptcy case. The lawyer speculates that stadium leases could potentially be thrown out during a bankruptcy case. However, the lawyer doesn’t mention whether the same would be the case for the Rays, who technically don’t have a lease.
The contract with the City of St. Pete is a “use-agreement” which renders the Rays more like business partner of the city, rather than a tenant.
Another concern for the city is the cost of battling the Rays in court. According this story, the city’s contract with the law firm is capped at $5,000 in fees. At $480 an hour, that is not going to go very far.
It is clear that the city of St. Pete is worried that a battle is looming. But at some point, they may have to decide if this is a battle that is worth fighting.