Yet another group is considering ways to help break the stalemate over a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council is a collection of Bay area politicians and government appointees best known for economic development and disaster planning, and for studying transportation issues.

It usually stays out of the limelight, but Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, who also serves on the planning council, is trying to push it into one of the region's hottest issue, the Rays stadium debate.

At a planning council meeting last week, Crist said the group offers the perfect forum for negotiations among the Rays, St. Petersburg and other stadium players.

Its role is to bring the Bay area's governments together to solve problems, Crist said, so why not solve the tug-of-war over the Rays?

"Whatever decision is made, shouldn't it be a collaborative one?" he said.

Enough fellow council members agreed that the planning council instructed its staff to investigate what role it can and should play.

"Can we be a facilitator between the parties, all parties, to move this forward?" asked Bob Minning, the mayor of Treasure Island and the planning council's chairman.

If it jumps into the ring, the planning council would be at least the third group or individual politician to consider brokering a regional discussion on the Rays.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, a regional group of business leaders and economic development agencies, is looking to get more involved, possibly by brokering discussions. And Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan has said he plans to convene a regional discussion on how to keep the Rays in the area.