When he ran for mayor in 2009, Bill Foster talked of a better relationship between the city and the Tampa Bay Rays, and sometimes he even campaigned in a Rays shirt.

Four years later, Foster has become a reviled symbol of opposition to the Rays' bid for a new stadium, a stance that has left him increasingly isolated as he seeks re-election this year.

The growing divisions between Foster and other political leaders on both sides of the bay have been highlighted in recent meetings between the Rays and the Hillsborough and Pinellas county commissions.

Members of the Pinellas County Commission, which also invested millions to build Tropicana Field and lure Major League Baseball here, last week apologized for the "embarrassing" way the Rays have been treated and admitted the team needs the option of exploring stadium sites in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, who has said the Rays' relocation is inevitable, has called for a regional discussion on the team's future, suggesting that Foster's threat to sue anyone who tries to lure the team away may be losing its effectiveness.