St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster went on 620 WDAE this morning to respond to comments made by the Rays during yesterday’s meeting with Hillsborough County officials. And if you are the optimistic sort, he made some of the most promising comments yet to come from the west side of the Bay…

“I have always been committed to this team, but Sternberg needs to talk to the people of St. Pete. He owes them something…My duty is to St. Petersburg, there has to be something in it for us. That is being ignored…My job is to those tax payers who stood up in the 1980’s and 1990’s  that actually brought this team here…Those people gave Mr. Sternberg the privilege of being one of a chosen thirty to control a Major League Baseball team…Those are the people who are being ignored in this…There is fifteen years pre-mature on the expiration of their lease.  I believe with those fifteen years, this side of Tampa Bay is owed something…The idea that you can throw it out and offer zero in return, I’m frustrated.”

[Do the Rays really want out of their contract with the city of St. Pete without offering any compensation at all? That seems hard to believe. Of course, what St. Pete would want is unknown.]

On the one hand it sounds like Foster is finally willing to negotiate and is no longer burying his head in the sands of the Gulf Coast. But at the same time, he also sounds as combative as ever. And it is hard to imagine anything getting done with Stuart Sternberg constantly telling us how much Major League Baseball hates the Bay Area and Foster constantly responding with agitated rhetoric.

Foster even made it clear that he is just getting tired of fighting over the Rays…

“I know I’m the whipping boy of Tampa Bay…If it was just me or if I was the only guy in this. I’ve been beaten down so much I’m almost to a point you know, just go already.”

In the meantime, Foster said the fans don’t have an excuse for not supporting the team. “You need to support this team,” said Foster. “This product is committed to winning in the AL East. I’m tired of the excuses.”

 
 

18 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Everytime I read about these guys ( stuie&foster et al) trying to negotiate in the media, I get so P.O….
    Let me help both of you, Stuie go to Foster and say ” we will give St. Pete $100 mil if you let us out of our lease” Foster says OK, Stuie says well we can’t afford that… would you take $50 mil, Foster says well maybe….. See how it works… NOW boys sit down and work it out, ITS not that hard, except for morons…

  2. Marc says:

    I’m confused…..wasn’t the 80s and 90s about trying to bring SF and ChiSox to town? Not the Rays…..so why hold them hostage for things from the past? Well other then to pick up the bill of course….

  3. Gus says:

    Buying St. Pete out of the lease would make the move even more of a financial disaster to the Rays.

    Hillsborough folks — if you are the dog catching the bus here, at least know what you are getting into financially (for a net gain of maybe 5,000 fans a game and the likely departure of your hockey team).

    http://deadspin.com/5978964/the-real-cost-to-miami-for-marlins-park-is-in-the-billions

    Stu’s likely best case scenario — Hillsborough stadium deal as good as the Marlins means he pays another $10M-$15 a year in stadium expense, has to pay off the City of St. Pete for say $50M, and adds maybe another $10-15M a year in ticket revenue (assuming he can keep the team as good as its been). No net gain, and lots of net risk.

    The whole thing is idiotic UNLESS Tampa-Hills pays for it all and the Rays get a better deal than the Marlins.

    At the end, I think we all want the Rays to stay good on the field and stay in the area. The best case for that is to stay put. Let Tampa Bay recover economically, and put the stadium in a good spot for when the Trop lease runs out. That may be a very different place than we think it is today.

  4. Dave L says:

    Somebody has to be the 30th best market in baseball right? Why not us? Who else is going to build the owner his free field of dreams with which to print money?

    We may have approached a paradigm shift in ballpark building and team ‘stealing’. Who else will build the park the people of this area wont/cant afford to build?

    What other US Market will put more than 13,000 fans in the seats on a Tuesday versus Cleveland that doesnt already have a MLB Team?

    Of course the lease can be bought out. Foster would be a horrible steward of the people of St Pete to let the team out with no compensation.

  5. Joe says:

    There is nothing wrong with what Bill Foster said here. Very appropriate. Foster is doing his job, which I don’t know why people are questioning him? Foster is not going to be the reason the Rays move, it will be Stu Sternberg and MLB. I just want Stu to negotiate and get off his stance and try to work with Foster in his framework.

    • Alex says:

      No one has ever said the Rays should move without compensation. We’ve all been waiting for Foster to say that he’s even willing to listen on the issue and to stop acting like a 5 year old kid about it. Stop acting like Foster has been more than willing to negotiate the whole time. He hasn’t. He’s continually told the Rays to go stick it where the sun don’t shine and they don’t like it then too bad. You have 15 more years left.

      I think what’s actually occurring here is that Foster realizes that MLB and Sternberg are both getting fed up with St. Pete and the way Foster has handle the stadium issue. He’s realizing that if MLB steps in financially, they can help the team buy out the lease in a few years and move them away. Then Foster will be left with no team and very little in compensation and he’ll look stupid

      • Joe says:

        Alex, the contract works both ways. Let me ask you this. Has MLB and Sternberg been an overall good partner? Has an All Star Game been even considered for the market? The way the market and city is portrayed, its an afterthought. On the whole, you would be correct, but from a perception standpoint, I disagree. MLB agreed in 1995 to the terms of the lease and they know what they agreed to at the time of the expansion announcement. So, if MLB wants to change the terms, St. Petersburg has to cave in? It doesn’t work like that. Be a partner.

        What I have suggested is for Foster and Sternberg is to get the best final Gateway proposal. Give St. Pete/Pinellas the last and best chance of first refusal and let’s see something in next 2-3 years come up for a vote. Let’s get a site and a money total. If the proposal goes kaboom, then Stu can look at Hillsborough, but Hillsborough ONLY. What Foster wants is to ensure the Rays as an asset is defended, which he has a constitutional oath that he swore to God to do!

      • Dave L says:

        Its simple

        Two parties to a contract.

        Party A is happy with the contract and the status quo.

        Party B is not happy.

        Its up to Party B to offer an alternative, not Party A.

        Its up to the Rays to put an offer on the table.

        Have they ever?

        • Don says:

          And he hits a home Run, as in Jeopardy….”Good Answer”

        • Alex says:

          How can they put an offer on the table when they are negotiating with a person that’s been acting like a spoiled brat with his toys. Foster has continually said he will not let the Rays leave St. Pete.

          Look I don’t care who’s right or wrong. I just want to keep the Rays in the area. I have grown up with this team. So if we lose them because Mayor Foster is being an a** hat and won’t negotiate then I’m going to hate him. The thing that annoys me the most during these stories are the people that side with mayor Foster and always say Sternberg can go away etc… So what happens when we lose the Rays? Are you guys going to be celebrating and patting mayor Foster on the back for forcing them to stay in a crap situation and inevitably making them want to leave the area as a whole? Then we’re stuck with a crappy stadium, no team, and no compensation. How awesome would that be? We can cheer for the Marlins

  6. Mike M says:

    Since the MLB was ok with the location when they awarded the team, I think they should get the ball rolling by making an offer to buy out the contract. I have a feeling they will eventually kick in, but they probably want to see the dialogue move in the right direction so they can start to “believe in Tampa Bay” again.

  7. Alex says:

    The biggest problem isn’t Sternberg vs the mayor. The biggest problem is what will happen when MLB decides enough is enough and they try to get the Rays out of St Pete/Tampa Bay. St. Pete will be compensated but we’ll probably lose the team

    • Dave L says:

      Have the Rays ever proposed anything? Anything? If they were serious they would throw something out to the court of public opinion. I am assuming thier only offer was let us out of our lease with no compensation and St. Pete said no.

      What have the Rays proposed? What has St. Pete turned down other than unconditional release?

      Why is it when dealing with sports franchises people lose thier objectivity.

      How much total yearly profit/loss have the owners incurred on a yearly basis since buying the Rays. Divide that by the total number of years owned. How much has the Rays franchise appreciated since the original purchase?

      Does any one believe the current owner has not made a healthy overall average yearly ROI since purchasing the team and that the value of the franchise hasn’t substantially increased since the purchase?

      • Geoff Peterson says:

        How quickly you forget that the Rays made an offer to build a new stadium at Al Lang a few years back and to pay for a significant portion of it as well and the city dismissed it and didn’t even bring it to a vote. St Pete can have big drives to save a tiny airport only serving the rich and spend $50 million on a pier no one will visit, but they won’t step up on a community asset like the Rays.

        • Joe says:

          How good and solid was that waterfront proposal? If not mistaken, there was a six month timetable from when the announcement came to be when there was to be a vote in November 2008. The funny thing is Geoff was that the Rays were super excited about the St. Pete waterfront then, and then all of the sudden, let’s abandon ship and get bailed out.

          I feel you, Geoff, I want the Rays to stay here. What I don’t get and continue to get, week after week, month after month and year after year is how Sternberg is still a babyface and Foster is the “heel”, using pro wrestling terminology. Sternberg is the outsider and Foster is the one who who lives in the area. Yes, yes, I know what is being said on both sides, but the juxtaposition is alarmingly cruel.

          I contend Stu Sternberg has became less pragmatic since this proposal, and everyone knows how I feel of course!! I find the topic extremely fascinating. I find it odd that Stu thinks he can just go and talk with Hillsborough knowing there is compensation he has to pay. Yes, the Rays may be better off in Hillsborough but I suggest that Stu goes back to Bill Foster and gets the best St. Pete/Pinellas proposal for an up and down situation, whether it be Gateway or wherever. If that goes kaboom, then Stu can go to Tampa, but Tampa ONLY. I find a lot of the PR coming from Stu to be as I said treacherous and deceitful. Call me a moron, or anything you want, but I feel that way about Stuart Sternberg, KNOWING what he has accomplished for the Rays. I welcome the day he has sold the team and someone like Jeff Vinik has bought into the club and the club and the fans and the market are all marketed to maximize fan interest instead of being exploited and made an example of to prove Park Avenue’s point. Tampa Bay has baseball fans, it just takes time and more time to turn them into Rays’ fans, apparently more time than Stu has the belly of patience for.

  8. Dale99 says:

    People need to think outside the box here. A win/Win secnario could look like this:
    Cruise lines can not bring their newest and biggest ships to the bay area because they won’t fit under the skyway bridge. So. Tampa could offer St. Pete the cruise port with all the advantages that would entale with the new Cruise ships able to dock there and a new stadium for the Rays can be built in the Channelside district.

  9. nate says:

    The problem with the cruise port relocation idea is there is no place to put it inside the St Pete city limits. It would have to be on the west side of I-275. Anything downtown would still require the ships to go under the skyway, rendering the swap pointless. All the waterfront land to the west of the Skyway is inhibited by barrier island and small channels.

  10. Noah says:

    We gave you the Rowdies

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