Oh boy. Thursday night brought a big surprise in the Tampa Bay area when the St. Petersburg, Florida City Council rejected an agreement the mayor made with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The agreement would have allowed the Rays to look for a new home in either the St. Pete or Tampa area and get the team out of the horrible stadium know as Tropicana Field.
And if the Rays were able to find said location, the city would have been reimbursed handsomely for allowing it.
The Rays are locked into a terrible stadium deal that in theory locks them to the Trop until 2027. It would cost a fortune to break that deal. Attendance is spotty at best and because of all these issues, the team is one of the lowest budget teams in Major League Baseball. Getting to the Trop is an extra 30 minutes just from Tampa, which limits the teams ability to get people who live in the region to games.
Current team owner Stewart Sternberg has already gone on record saying if he can't get an opportunity to find a new stadium, he will sell the team to the highest bidder. And that bidder likely will move the team once they are able to.
St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman understood that and was able to get a deal that made sense. To everyone but the council who defeated it on a 3 to 5 vote. They quoted a statement from the team questioning stadium redevelopment rights. The two sides had an agreement to redevelop the Trop site should the Rays move. The money would be split 50/50. But when asked if they'd change that agreement if the team left the stadium early, the Rays said "No". That appeared to turn the tide in a vote they otherwise would have won.
The council decided it was best to discuss stadium options in a workshop saying they want the Rays to limit their search to St. Petersburg. And while hope remains the two sides can workout a deal, both sides walked away with bruised egos. We all know it takes awhile for the bruises to go away.
WTSP-TV in Tampa explains things visually: