Yesterday at a gathering of hospitality officials Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said that the time could be right for a new Rays stadium to be built in his city. Buckhorn is attempting to capitalize on economic development momentum that’s generated new projects and jobs in Tampa in recent weeks.
He told the group that: “It’s either going to be Tampa or someplace else, not St. Petersburg,” Buckhorn told 100 members attending the Hillsborough County Hotel and Motel Association’s annual luncheon.
According to the Tampa Tribune, Buckhorn’s statement followed the election defeat Tuesday of incumbent St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who Buckhorn has said was an obstacle to the Rays looking beyond Pinellas County for a new home.
While Buckhorn was not specific on where a new ball park would be built in downtown or how it might be paid for, you have to feel that somewhere in Manhattan Rays owner Stuart Sternberg ears were burning. There is nothing more that the Rays and Major League Baseball would like better than to see a new stadium built in Tampa.
The fact that Mayor Buckhorn seems ready to push the plan is a good sign. But in coming St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will have something to say about how the Rays future plans play out. He has said that speaking to the teams brass and Sternberg right after the first of the year.
2014 could be the year that there is movement on just where and when the Rays will be getting a new ball park.