Less than a week after Lisa Wheeler-Brown soundly defeated Will Newton in St. Peterburg’s pivotal District Seven city council race, Mayor Rick Kriseman met with Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld for a 45-minute meeting that had been described as “cordial” by Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times.
The two sides ― which also included Rays executives Melanie Lenz and Rafaela A. Amador, and Kriseman’s chief of staff Kevin King and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin ― met at Ricky P’s (a restaurant within spitting distance of the Trop) to “restart” stadium negotiations.
Details on the meeting were sparse, although it is highly unlikely that any deal will be brought to city council before January when the pro-deal council-member elect Wheeler-Brown officially joins the council.
Interestingly enough, Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium) successfully predicted that any movement on the Stadium Saga shouldn’t be expected until after January, writing following the election last Tuesday:
The winner of today’s election won’t take office until the new year, so if it’s Wheeler-Brown, we may be able to expect some real movement come January.
For his part, Auld viewed the results of the election as a sign of progress:
We’re optimistic that there’s a deal to be reached. We really do want the city to manage its politics on its own but clearly the Rays were a bit of an issue in this election. And from what we’ve heard the next council may be more amenable to a deal than the prior council.’
On a related side note, in an earlier piece for the Times, Frago asserted that Lisa Wheeler-Brown’s election wasn’t a guarantee of a deal, because councilwoman Amy Foster is now viewed as the key swing vote. Foster supported Kriseman’s deal this past summer, however, her support was predicated on the inclusion of a transparency clause on how the Rays evaluated potential stadium sites. As of now, it is not certain whether that clause would be offered again, nor is it known if any bad blood remains from the election to swing her back to a “no.” As Pransky wrote, these factors could decide whether a deal gets done.