St. Petersburg has plans to keep the Rays in the city.
Despite evidence that shows the Rays best route to long term success is a new stadium in Tampa, it seems St. Petersburg still wants to stay the home for the team.
Yesterday, at Tropicana Field St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, not only threw out the first pitch at the Rays – Yankees game, he made another pitch on why the team should stay in St. Petersburg. Mayor Kriseman offered a 43-page in-depth proposal on a new home for the Rays, near Tropicana Field that also has both residential and retail space.
According to a report released by Mayor Kriseman’s office the new Rays stadium would be the centerpiece of an 81-acre development. The document is aimed at addressing five major areas of concern when looking at the long term future of the team in St. Petersburg.
The only issue that really matters remains “How close can any St. Petersburg location be accessible to the team’s fan base.” The mayor stressed that 3.2 million people are within one hour of the site and he also interjected a corporate support element into the equation.
The report stressed that Pinellas County is home to 26 corporate headquarters and nine of those call St. Petersburg home. Having that sort of corporate support is of course of great importance to the future of the Rays.
While Mayor Kriseman is right on both counts the problem of crossing one of three bridges, or a causeway remains a major deterrent to fans heading to the Trop or any other site near that location.
The 43-page document also does not address how the new project would be funded. Clearly, the only way this gets done is with some formula that includes public funds via taxes and a significant investment from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mayor Kriseman, deserves credit for his attempts to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. Time will tell if the Rays and the city can find a way to work together for a long term deal.
Video from the city of St. Petersburg.