Update: today’s press conference at the Trop — regarding the city of St. Pete’s stadium deal with the Rays — has come to pass. For a live tweeted account of today’s Stadium Saga presser, head to our Twitter feed where we re-tweeted Noah Pransky‘s account. We’ll have our takeaway of the presser shortly.
Breaking: Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays have reached a deal which would allow the Rays to search the entire region for an apt stadium location — Hillsborough County included. The deal is pending approval from the St. Petersburg City Council when it meets Thursday, December 11.
As part of the deal, the Rays would make payments to St. Petersburg, if the team were to leave the city before its contract expires at Tropicana Field expires in 2027.
Neither St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, nor Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, have had anything to say. Rather, Kriseman plans to share the details of the “unprecedented” agreement Tuesday morning, in a press conference at The Trop.
A good number of details have seen the light of day, however:
- The team can only look at locations in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
- The Rays have until December 31, 2017 to settle on a new site.
- The team would have to make arrangements to pay off any remaining bonds on the Trop.
- Arrangements for tearing down the Trop would be settled later.
- If the team moves, it will also provide up to $1 million in in-kind compensation as well as the annual payments. These include season tickets for marketing the city and signage in the new stadium touting St. Petersburg.
Furthermore, if the Rays were to leave the confines of Tropicana Field prior to the 2027 season, compensation payments would be based on how many years would remain on The Trop lease if the Rays left, starting at $4 million a season until December 2018, dropping to $3 million a season from 2019 to 2022 and $2 million from 2023 through 2026.
Why such a low payout?
As Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium Blog) asserts,
…Kriseman, who negotiated the deal for nearly 12 months (after his predecessor was unable to finalize a deal for years), must have felt his leverage was limited and the benefit of securing a deal now outweighed the risk of continued negotiation.
The Times also reports,
By agreeing to compensation now, the City Council would forfeit the right to make further demands on the Rays if they want to leave. Any changes would have to be consistent with the memorandum of understanding. If there is a dispute about the understanding, both sides agree to have it resolved by a circuit court judge in Manatee County.
You can read more via the Tampa Bay Times, though it should be noted: Stephen Nolhgren’s Hillsborough/Tampa centric article does not include sites in St. Petersburg/Pinellas such as the available property in Carillon, or where the current facility resides in downtown St. Petersburg; sites where a new facility could be more feasible.
Pransky was also quick to point out a few lingering questions that beg to be delved discussed:
- Will the team finally indicate how much they’d contribute toward a new stadium?
- Will the Rays open their books if they want public subsidies?
- Will it make a big enough difference in attendance?
- How the heck will Tampa (editor’s note: or St. Pete for that matter) come up with enough tax dollars to pay for it?
While Tampa may have tons of potential sites for a stadium, there are still questions and concerns that need to be discussed. Furthermore, the flag of victory on Tampa’s part should not be raised, nor should the white flag of defeat be raised on the part of St. Petersburg. As I’ve said for years now, the best solution to this conundrum is one that is inclusive. That is, it will be incredibly important for the Rays to do their due diligence in this, their forthcoming search on both sides of the bay.
In the end, one side of the bay should not be favored in lieu of the other, just because a handful of local journalists (among others) find favor in that location. To that end, while certain regional studies have been long held as the gold standard in the discourse surrounding the Stadium Saga, many of the regional peripherals and demographics have changed — things that also need to be taken into consideration when discussing what should be considered a fairly complex issue.