The St. Petersburg City Council convened this morning with a glaring item on its agenda, a proposal to amend the city's contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The amendment finally made its way to the floor at 1:30 this afternoon, and Councilman Charlie Gerdes - sponsor of the proposed amendment - opened the discussion. If you put yourself in [the Rays] shoes, you can understand why they'd [want to leave]," Gerdes began. "I'm not being judgmental about the stalemate... the only thing I'm being judgmental about is, ‘How do we break [it]?'"
The proposed amendment for an "exploratory fee" of $1.42M would allow the Rays to look outside of Pinellas County for a new stadium location, something currently prohibited in the contract for Tropicana Field. However, should the Rays desire to move, the amendment would not permit relocation. "If the Rays decide they want to leave the Trop early," Gerdes stated, "they'd need to come back and negotiate again."
Councilman Gerdes, an attorney by trade, called for his fellow councilmembers to not be afraid of holding sites in Pinellas County up against those in Hillsborough. "We should play offense; we should beat our chests about how beat a place St. Pete is to play!" The St. Petersburg region has its benefits in cost, ease of contract negotiations, and traffic flow for the Bay area - but should the Rays truly want to relocate, according to Gerdes, standing in the way could be detrimental.
St. Petersburg City Council votes against the Rays stadium contract amendment
D Rays Bay | Feb 7