“That’s an interesting suggestion.”

That was St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster’s response when told that a Hillsborough County Commissioner proposed trading a big chunk of Tampa’s cruise industry for the Tampa Bay Rays. It was also the most positive thing we have ever heard Mayor Foster say about the Rays stadium situation.

We have long suggested that St. Pete would need something tangible to loosen their grip on the Rays, rather than just a big fat check. We had proposed moving the Rays’ triple-A operations to St. Pete. But the cruise industry makes more sense.

From the Tampa Bay Times

Within the next five years or so, most of the midsize cruise ships that currently service the Tampa port will be switched to the new megaships. They are too tall to fit through the 182.5 feet available under the Skyway bridge to get to the current terminal near Channelside in Tampa…Officials have to come up with some way to accommodate the larger ships or risk losing the cruise business altogether.

One suggestion has a new terminal being built west of the Skyway on land that is still technically within Hillsborough County. However, because of the location, most tourists would choose to stay in St. Pete before and/or after their trip.

Elizabeth Behrman and Bill Varian, a decision must be made on the cruise industry in the next five years. Meanwhile, a decision on the Rays probably needs to be made in the next 12-18 months.

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6 Comments

  1. beazy says:

    Like they say, "the Rays way", trading ships for stadiums...

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  2. don says:

    Why doesn't Pinellas Co. keep both...Tampa can't have modern cruise line ships dock there, and they don't have the Money for a new stadium...so both will be in St. pete...another dagger in Hillbilly CO.'s heart

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    • Political Man says:

      Pinellas may get the new port but the idea Pinellas is going to keep the Rays until the end of the lease is delusional.

      Foster doesn't need a fair trade, he needs a way out without looking like he caved on the interests of the city he serves. Let's not even mention the fact that I doubt very seriously Pinellas wants to foot the bill for a new port entirely on their own.

      What this also does is give Hillsborough politicians cover for public financing, at least in part, for a new stadium in Hillsborough County. I can hear the politicians now, "This is money that would have been spent on building a new port."

      And it lets Foster save face by claiming he got something back in the deal. As a Rays fan, it's almost too perfect.

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  3. The Rays owners bought the team and its existing lease cheap. Now they claim that they thought they bought the NY Yankees. The price of a MLB team in a major market is $2 billion. If you want to break your lease go ahead. Just pay up.

    St Pete doesn't need Hillsborough County's permission to take over the cruise ship industry. Hills County is trying to sell us a house that has been condemned and is on an ever spreading sink hole. No thanks.

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    • David says:

      Couldn't agree more, Miguel. Stuey purchased the Rays with the intent of having them build a stadium and he gets to sell for a huge profit on the backs of the residents. And when we balked, he threatened to take his ball and go home. A waterfront stadium was supposed to be the answer, until it wasn't - and that was in St. Pete. The same people that say it can't work in St Pete, are the same ones who not too long ago proposed that waterfront park with it's windsails and many, many fans (the whirling kind, not the sitting kind).

      The Rays belong in St Pete and can succeed there. Stu needs to focus on renegotiating that TV deal or get his own channel - that's where the real money is.

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  4. luis says:

    Lets make an ISLAND on the bay, south of Howard Frankland parkway(60) and noth of I-275. Then we wil have a trully TAMPA BAY'S RAYS TEAM.I WIULL DEMAND MY MONEY IF IT EVER COMES THROUGH! THANKS!

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