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Tampa Bay Rays: Should St. Pete Let Go?

The Major League Baseball team says it needs a new stadium to be successful in the Bay area. Some St. Petersburg leaders insist they must stay in the city. We want to hear what you think should happen.

It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Rays have been talking with government officials outside of St. Petersburg about the need for a new stadium. They’ve gone on a road show of sorts, talking with officials on both the Hillsborough and Pinellas county commissions.

Team management has made it clear that attendance numbers need to rise for the Rays to remain viable in the Tampa Bay area. They’ve also made it abundantly clear that Major League Baseball has lost its faith in Tampa Bay.

While Hillsborough and Pinellas county officials want to lend a hand to restore that faith – and possibly a location for a shiny new stadium in their own backyards – St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster is adamantly opposed to letting the team out of its contract to play at Tropicana Field through 2027.

Now, however, St. Petersburg Councilman Charlie Gerdes thinks the team should be allowed to at least look – for a price. He wants the Rays to pay the city $1.4 million to allow the team to explore new sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas. The “exploration fee,” according to The Tampa Tribune would not allow the Rays to move – only look.

In order to actually move, the Rays would need to negotiate to break their contract with St. Pete.

Here’s what we want to know from you, Tampa Bay: Is it time for St. Pete to let go? Or, do you think St. Pete should stick to its guns? Are you worried the team will look outside the Bay area entirely if something doesn't give soon? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

CJ February 05, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Babak. Your suggestion was interesting. We're new and recently moved here from Kansas, near the KC area. We enjoy all sports, including Arena Football. From what I have gathered, the Tropicana has been going through a painful period for quite some time now. Losing both The Lightning and The Storm to Tampa in recent years. Correct? That must have hurt...being a St Pete citizen...and losing those teams !! Now we are faced with losing The Rays. This is not a good time for St Pete sports fans. Even I can see that. I mentioned Arena Football. That season is getting ready to start, and I was surprised to see that The KC Brigade was no longer part of Areana Football. They have, instead, joined in a brand new league very similar to Arena Football we all know...but one much less expensive to run and more suitible for smaller markets...much like what The Tropicana seems evitably destined to be. One of these teams along with your idea would be workable for St Pete. It's great how Arena Football is around after the NFL Superbowl. It seems a shame to see The Trop not be used...we like it just fine. The main thing here is to keep The Rays in the area, and not make the owner simply want to move them to another metro area I am sure would be eager to take them from the St Pete/Tampa area. I have often wondered why there has never been any talk of a new, world class Dome...like the New Orleans Superdome, for example...that could house both The Rays ''and'' The Bucs. That would be cool.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 12:30 AM
You can easily get tickets for under $10. The Rays are not expensive to go see if you take advantage of many of the promotions that are ''always'' offered, plus how cheap you can park. Most other MLB teams have ''much'' higher costs associated with going to see a game. In fact...I think you can even take in some drinks of your own here. THAT is unheard of anywhere else I have ever seen anywhere. It does not get any cheaper than it is here. No way.
Joanne Hoey February 05, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Maybe you can relate to this analogy.....how would you feel if you just built your wife a beautiful new home and you had mortgaged to the hilt, and then she left you?
CJ February 05, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Joanne. I think you have touched on what is going on here. I think the Mayor ''knows'' he is ''not'' going to stop The Rays from leaving The Trop...but he certainly wants to try and get something out of the deal. Even if they go to N Pinellas instead of Tampa. The Mayor is playing this right...and let's hope he can get The Trop paid for if The Rays leave. I look at it this way. When we knew we were moving here...we thought we would be going to Tampa a lot. Well...it has turned out that St Pete is so much fun, we quickly found out it was hardly necessary to go to Tampa. ''That'' in itself is a big part of why The Rays can't get enough people to the games...there is too many other cool things to do virtually every night...24/7/365 here. My guess is that even the Tampa people like it better over here...lol. This is a fun place to live. That said...we ''do'' enjoy an excuse to go to Tampa...and if The Rays go there...then we will then have an excellent excuse to make the drive over there and plan on doing something else over there at the same time. A two birds with one stone sort of a thing. It's not all bad if they move there, is my point.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Steve. I agree largely with you, and feel The Mayor is playing this out to keep from getting nothing if The Rays leave The Trop. And so he should. If they want to move from The Trop, then Tampa or the owner ''or BOTH'' need to ''show St Pete the money''. Right? I think most of us can see the need for a change here, but the business aspect of it can't be ignored. Baseball fans or not. I read somewhere the argument that since Tampa can't sell enough ticket's for The Bucs...then how can anyone think they will do any better filling a Tampa stadium up with Rays fans? It's a good argument, I think. I also read that The Rays owner does not expect to sell a ''hugh'' amount more of tickets in Tampa than he does in St Pete...but he would simply like to see an increase of at least 1000 more people per game and then he could live with that. Like many other MLB team cities do. Seems reasonable of him to me. Many markets do fine without sellouts. It's just the simple fact that The Trop's average is simply is too low. Considering 1000 more fans is not really that big of an increase that he is looking for....it seems a real shame that St Pete and Tampa ''both'' can't come up with an idea to make this work right where they are...at The Trop. I have to question the ''Marketing Department'' of The Rays...surely they can be expected to have better ticket sales??? For just 1000 more fans??? Come on...
CJ February 05, 2013 at 01:13 AM
JL...just curious...do you know what Evac Zone Brooker Creek is in compared to where The Tropicana is? I am just guessing, but I bet The Trop is in an Evac Zone 3 or 4...doubtfully a 5 or not in one at all. Just the name of Brooker Creek implies it sounds like an Evac Zone 1. There is a ''big'' difference between a Evac Zone 1 and a Evac Zone 3 or above. I am not saying your suggestion is bad, I am just bringing up this question. I personally do not know what the Evac Zones are for either area.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 01:28 AM
If Ihad built that home in 2008 or so, then I'd feel real bad...because even in this thriving or ''recovering'' housing market that Obama claims (ha ha) is present...it would ''still''' only be worth about 1/3 of the the money I paid for it...but in ''today's'' world I would still owe the full 2008 value of the house to the bank. It's called being upside down on a house loan and many are in that shape. It's now likely most of us will never see our homes return to their value in the forseeable future. Oh...and I personally ''do'' get your analogy and have basically lived it ...except I still have my wife...lol. Divorced or not...the situtaion you describe is ''very bad''...but if the house was built in about 2008...then it's a ''nightmare''. Nightmare trumps very bad by a great deal...lol.
JR February 05, 2013 at 04:29 AM
CJ- This nothing to do with attendance and everything to do with corporate sponsorship. Major league sports teams make a big chunk of their profits from suites and corporate sponsors which they have been unable to attract to the Trop that's why they need a new stadium. Glad your having so much fun in St. Pete but the fact is that the Trop is in a bad area where people can't wait to get out of as soon as the games are over as evidenced by the stream of traffic rushing to get on the interstate after every game. The suites are mostly empty unlike the Bucs or Lightning which are mostly sold out and bring them in big bucks. If the Rays don't move closer to Tampa or Tampa itself they will eventually move out of state to somewhere like Charlotte. I don't know what the answer is but I can bet you that will be the result.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 04:55 AM
''This (is) nothing to do with attendance''...???? Huh? Well..ok..if that's what you think...but I don't agree with that as much as you express it. I agree that the corporate sponsorship is as important as you say, though. I don't know Tampa very well...because we live her in St Pete and we have only been here 10 months...but from what I've noticed about Tampa....I don't see what you are talking about. I have been to the areas in Channelside, the Forum area , Ybor, etc...and it looks like Tampa has it's share of ''bad areas'' surrounding the fun spots also. And they look even ''more'' bad. You evidently don't go anywhere in St Pete after the games. It would be hard to list all the fun places to go after the games at The Trop...but there are numerous stretches along Central either way that are just fine. and..of course..there s downtown St Pete. All of this is in very easy walking distance of The Trop. And the stream of traffic you are referring to...well that is normal after any game in the entire country. by the time most people have sit through a game...that is pretty much the entertainment for the day. ''That's'' why people hurry to get home...''not'' because St Pete is bad..or the areas near it are bad. Yeah..of course..if you go south towards Campbell Park or whatever...yeah..it's bad...but who goes that way? You bragged on The Bucs attendance. Are you serious? Often...each week...they were the only team in teh NFL that had TV Blacked out because of low ticket sales.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 05:11 AM
Also...again about ''the stream of traffic rushing to get out''. Not all those people are getting on the interstate to rush back to Tampa. Many are leaving because they don't want to leave their cars there..I don't think you can do that anyway. They get everyone out and close it up after the games. Many are simply going to the ''multitude'' of different areas to go visit for after game fun. The Gulf Beach areas...Clearwater...Passe-A-Grill...even south ove the Skyway...the list is endless. Many games are evening games and the kids have to get home, etc....often for school or simply because going to a game is just about as much entertainment for onw day that most people need. I am not onw of those. I like to do things before and/or after the game...and there is ''plenty'' to do. We just don't park at The Trop. Not to save parking money, but to have our car someplace where we don't have to move it. You just sound like you don't like it here. I don't think they are going to another city, though. That's just talk. Tampa maybe...and probably...but no farther than that. i don't see it.
Jim February 05, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Let them go....let them go...let them go!!!! Of course after they pay their contract up in full !!! The problem here in Tampa Bay isn't that the Rays tickets and attending a game is so expensive....in fact it is relatively inexpensive!!! The problem is that the wages that people earn here in Tampa Bay does not give people enough disposible income to attend many games.....PERIOD! Pay people a livable wage and there will be more money spent on our teams!!! Just my one cent worth.....because it is hard to earn my 2 cents and then give it away!!!
JR February 05, 2013 at 01:06 PM
CJ- Take off your chamber of commerce hat and read my post again. Nowhere do I brag about attendance I said that the luxury suites are mostly sold out for the Bucs and Lightning due to higher corporate sponsorship where many estimate up to 40% of team profits come from. Also, nowhere did I say Tampa was better but the facts are that business buy suites and support the teams in Tampa, Tampa or the Carillion area of Pinellas are also a lot closer to the population centers. I dare you to walk to the pier area from the Trop at night and let me know how safe you feel. I'm glad that you love south St. Pete and are an expert in the Tampa Bay area after living here less than a year but many of us drive over an hour to get to the Trop and unlike you don't go there early to visit whatever fun spots you are referring to and can't wait to leave that area after the games especially at night when a majority of the games are played.
sparky February 05, 2013 at 02:13 PM
I don't think that the Lightning ever planned to stay at the trop. They were at the fairgrounds and then the trop while their venue was being built. Arena football? Who cares. Baseball is America s sport and I like it here and I REALLY like the trop. BUT I don't want tax money per mantle committed to a new stadium. Ticket prices are too high at the trop and the owners are scavengers in the way they increase ticket prices for certain teams which is understandable , BUT they increase the parking prices. They are grabbing you money before you enter the building and want you to leave with spare change. That is the problem, ticket prices are out of Wack for regular people to even think of attending 80+games with their kids. A super dome? We have a dome in the Trop now and mixed venues never have the fan to field link that makes baseball great. Maybe in Kansas they listen to people with dreamy eyes without thinking about cost, but here we want to know how to pay for it. If Kansas is so great then move back instead of referring to it as a comparison we are some backwater town. It's obvious you are not invested in Tampa Bay.
sparky February 05, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Only 300 people buy season tickets for 80+ games! How many home Bucs games? How many home Lightning games? How many people in Pinellas buy partial packages for one game per series? Let them go after they pay up under the contract, just like if you rented an apartment and then moved out.
Joanne Hoey February 05, 2013 at 02:32 PM
They actually just had an article in the Tampa Bay Times stating that the corporate sponsorship WAS the issue, and not acutally the regular fan base attendance.
Michael D. February 05, 2013 at 02:38 PM
When it comes to "ticket" sales for professional sports, that is always the issue. They are the ones that purchase the expensive seats.
Ronald Joseph Kule February 05, 2013 at 06:31 PM
I would go to more Ray's games if they tore the roof off the St. Pete site. Baseball is so much more enjoyable under the stars, even in the heat, which can be lessened with a retractable roof like Seattle's Mariners have. "If you build it, I (and people) will come, Ray(s)."
CJ February 05, 2013 at 07:39 PM
The article I mentioned was from a conversation with the Rays owner. It was in the Tribune. He said he would not be so disgruntled if he had 1000-1500 more people per game. When I read it, it sounded like his position was reasonable. The fact is...that throughout baseball..obviously most team are not winning teams and come far from filling the stadiums. Those owners have a level of attendance they desire, just as the Rays owner does. here at The Trop...the numbers are not ''that far'' off. Not really. Very few cities fill the seats with a team not in contention...of course that is not the case with the Rays...which makes the whole situation more difficult for the owner. Imagine how empty the seats woiuld be if the Rays were lousy? I don't think moving to Tampa would help that case. But it was a month ago or so when I read this...maybe he has changed his position...which I would not doubt at all. Right now...I think all we are seeing is everybody playing their cards. The right offer, and the right stadium in N Pinellas might just be good enough for the owner. I can see the issue for Tampa fans. Once you get over the Howard Franklin...you still have near 20 miles to go to The Trop. That is a long drive on school nights. If the drive from Tampa was just to N Pinellas area...it would be enough difference to not bother the Tampa fans as much. The Trop has had it's chance, but it just has not worked. Too bad...because it is cool having it there, but not for Tampa.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 07:59 PM
JR...Ok...I can see that better now and agree with you more. Sorry if I spun your comment, but my points are valid also. The corporate sponsorship issue seems like an issue that could be fixed with better marketing and better sales teams. I based my comment on an interview with the team owner I read. I have mentioned I am new here and still learning about local issues. I have to say...I am puzzeled how St Pete ever got the team and The Trop here...and how it was never in Tampa all along. It seems like they are showing an interest a little late. Was Tampa not interested in the team before? My main argument with you was about how The Trop is only located near bad areas...and your comment about the rush of traffic to leave the game. I gave you valid replies about that...but I guess you are not reading what i am sriting either. I was defending teh vibrant entertainment areas near The Trop. You were way wrong about all that. But...that said....I do agree that the Carillion could be a winner. Even if it goes there, I still can see why the mayor is fighting to get excellent compensation for leaving The Trop. And the walk to The Pier from The Trop is fine...are you serious...have you been down there in the last 5 years? Central, from The Trop all the way to The Pier is a ''very fun'' stretch of nightlife. You need to get out more...but it ''is'' a bit of a walk, though...lol. The area over by Ferg's has numerous places already right there, though. What do you want, Disneyworld?
Robert Thompson February 05, 2013 at 08:04 PM
I don't care where they go. They must hold up their end to the bargain and finish the lease/ pay off the Trop and not leave the taxpayers to foot the bill.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Don't underestimate what I know about this area. I may be still learning, but when you go out nearly every night of the week...you can learn a lot very fast here. You'd be surprised how much I know about the entire State of Florida. Nearly everywhere I go here I feel I often know more than people who wer born here...that is largely because many people take for granted what a paradise this is. My move to Florida took 5 years of planning and a lot of traveling and research. I have already shown you how little you know about how much safer the area from The Trop is to The Pier is compared to even just 3 years ago. I also know that Tampa hardly is a walkin the park everywhere , either...especailly in the Tampa downtown areas where all the sport venues are. I woiuld gladly deal with the St Pete homeless and bums before I'd want to deal with the ones in Tampa. Face it...if we want a sports Stadium that is in a completely safe place...we have to put it over on the barrier islands that have all the beach communities from Passe-a-Grille up to Clearwater, etc. Last I checked, I did not see room there...lol. Get there ''early enough''...again...what are you talking about? St Pete Rocks till 3 am. In fact...''all'' of Piunellas does. I can't hardly believe what you ae saying. You must go to bed by 9 pm and leave the game at the 7th Inning Streatch...lol.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I do like the ''south St Pete'' area...but to clarify...I do like the areas to the east, west, and north of The Trop better...lol. I figured you knew ''that''. If you are hitting the area to ''the south'' of The Trop...then ..yeah...it's bad...but it also means you probably took a wrong turn on the way home...lol. It is ''much'' easier to end up in a bad part of town in Tampa than it is in St Pete. You know...at about 10-11 pm...when the games get out...the fun is just starting around town. I'm near 60 and know that. What..are you about 85? Lighten up on St Pete. Youhave to realize...when I say '' St Pete'' I usually lump virtually all of pinellas into that....and this is a very fun area. This summer , we plan on gettin go know the Tampa to Orlando area better...and looking forward to it.
CJ February 05, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Ronald. You are the man...lol! That's the spirit! I am with you, brother...but ..come on....a little AC is not all bad...lol.
michael mirra February 06, 2013 at 12:24 AM
What about Tampa bay holding up our part of the bargain? Major league baseball gave Tampa Bay a team with the understanding that we would supply an adequate stadium for the team to play. When the team was in the basement every year, they didn't have a leg to stand on demanding an adequate & suitable stadium. Now that they are on a par with the Yankees & Red Sox, major league baseball wants Tampa Bay to fulfill it's obligation to supply an adequate place for the team to play. Tampa Bay owes it to it's citizens to keep our baseball team & not stigmatize our image irreparably as a no count, second rate city. Then again, if we let them leave, we deserve any stigma we get. If the shoe fits, we must wear it.
michael mirra February 06, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Build it & they will come? That's the logic that caused Tampa Bay to build the Trop in the first place. Then the logic was, if they win, they will come. It could be like Miami & still people won't go after the novelty wears off. A new stadium would make sure they don't move to another city, but people need to stop supporting teams that play for cities thousands of miles away, where they no longer live. The Stinkin' Yankee fans are the worst, followed by the Damn Red Sox fans. The Philly fans can also use an adjustment in priorities, or move back to where their heart still lives. If Tampa Bay people supported the Tampa Bay home team, there would be no issue.
Michael D. February 06, 2013 at 02:14 PM
I love how people are making it all about Fans fault the Rays are leaving. The Ownership bought the team fully knowing the landscape they were entering. They knew about attendence, location, and the area at the time. As a former partial season ticket holder through a few seasons 2006-2008. I saw how the customer service reduced and the cost to the fans went up. The lack of real marketing in the area for the Rays, by the Rays. I see more marketing for the Clearwater Threshers then I do the Rays, and they are a single A ball club. The Rays claim to be loosing money, but then every financial breakdown by external indenities show they are one of the more profitable fanchises. Maybe what the Rays Ownership needs to do is pay attention to the Lightning Ownership. I am willing to travel further, to watch the Lightning because of how their staff and ownership treats the fans. Because their ownership is part of the community, unlike the ownership of the Rays. As far as Yankee fan, Steinberner is/has been very good to this community. I have no issue with people following the Yankees do to his impact on our area.
CJ February 06, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Sparky. How did it refer this area is a backwater town? I think my remarks have been quite the opposite and very complimentary about the area. Frankly, I can tell by your comment I am a better contribution to the area as a resident than you are. It sounds like ''you'' are the one who needs to move and make room for new blood that will help this area keep on keeping on. You evidently having reading comprehension issues, or you would see your comment directed to me are way off. You have taken something I have said completely wrong, evidently. I like most of what you had to say, but what is it I said that makes you feel I am not on your side. It seems to me that we are, but you don't sound like you agree on that. I love The Trop also....and I especially love baseball there. I don't quite understand your problem with Arena Football. Do you realize it's season starts about now? It is very entertaining...''and''...you can buy ''season tickets'' for UNDER $100. Yes...that's what I said. But...you did not know that ...did you? Try doing that for any other sports here in a climate controlled dome like The Trop.
Jeff Kirkpatrick February 13, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Well....as a fan, they should stay. But thinking of it as a business choice, they should leave st pete. No one likes driving way down there to see a game. Parking is horrible, and shouldnt be more expensive than the game. And its not really the fans fault....its how expensive concessions are at the games. People know they can spend 10 bucks to go see the game....but after a beer and a hot dog, you are in 15 more bucks on top of your ticket. Now multiply that by 2, because no one goes alone, then you are spending 50-60 bucks on average to go to a game.
Michael E. Masterson July 29, 2013 at 01:12 PM
We love the Rays. They are one of, if not the most exciting MLB teams from the innovative front office right on through to the manager, coaches and the players. We live in Winter Haven, and rooted for Cleveland when they trained here, but when the Rays front office changed we were all in and switched allegiances entirely. We try to take in as many games as we can each year, but it is a long drive for us, and during the week it is problematic when we work the next day. We usually don't get home after seeing a game at the Trop until 1 AM or later. We try to take in MLB games around the country when we travel, and there are not as many fans at home games as there are for other MLB teams who are winning. The Rays could become a Central Florida team. If they were to build a domed stadium on I 4 by Hard Rock or closer to the Selmon expressway they could draw from Orlando, Tampa, St Pete and all points east and west. We need a centrally located venue so we can draw more fans. If they moved to the areas we mentioned we would become season ticket holders. GO RAYS, but please don't become disenchanted and leave Florida. Mayor Foster, Let My People GO!!!
CJ July 29, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Good points, Michael. I think what you suggest is a good idea, but I also see the importance of honoring contracts. Plus...I think this is ture...it was St Petersburg was fought hard to even bring the Rays to this area...and Tampa was not much part of that fight back then? Is this correct? We are new, so I am not sure. An observation by us since we have lived her is the Tamp and St Petersburg ''both'' are missing the chance to build a huge badly needed world class Domed Stadium that could house ''both'' the Rays and The Bucs. The Bucs are not exactly doing too well packing people in , either. All I have heard from people who go to games there is how hot it is.

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