Feb 24, 2010

Either unite or lose the team

by Aaron Giddens

Distant picture of the Trop with a city limits sign for St. Pete
Courtesy: Flickr
I have really lost some respect for the people of St. Pete, Florida over the past couple of weeks. The way they are acting over the fact the Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium is so juvenile, and it's not just the city leaders. The residents have been just as bad. Some even going as far to refer to the residents of Tampa as "Tampons". This attitude has turned me off to visiting the city to watch a baseball game in June. Which is not what the city nor the team needs.

In case you haven't heard, the Rays in 2008 proposed a water front stadium in St. Pete to replace the aging and inadequate Tropicana Field. It was, as expected, not well received cause of where it would be built (it would have been built on the current location of what is known as Progress Energy Park) and how it would be funded (a small tax hike). The Rays abandoned the plans in February of last year when they learned it would be inadequate as well. And so then-St. Pete mayor Rick Baker along with the Rays, established committee to explore possible areas for a new stadium. When the group released their report one year later, there was a negative reception from St.Pete officials cause it was rumored that the committee explored and agreed to areas outside the St. Pete city limits. St. Pete wanted nothing to do with he report citing a lease with the Rays to keep the team at "The Trop" (Tropicana Field) until 2027. Meanwhile, a few Hillsborough County officials (the county where Tampa is) wanted to hear the report, to which St. Pete threatened legal action if any further interference from Tampa and Hillsborough county officials happened to "help the Rays breach a contract".

There have been reports that former Tampa mayor Dick Greco is working with group to get a stadium built on the Florida State Fairgrounds. While another report has a local, small time realtor shopping for land in the Channelside area next to the St. Pete Times Forum for a possible new stadium, but the realtor behind the "shopping" said it's only preliminary plans that she doesn't expect to go any further unless the Rays want them to.

Part of the committee's findings say if the Rays do not get a new stadium before 2027, they expect the Tampa Bay area to lose the Rays to another market like San Antonio, Portland or, by a slight chance, Orlando.

Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig has said himself that the Rays need a new stadium QUICK. Stuart Sternburg, the owner of the Rays, has said he can't afford a new stadium himself or he would build it himself.

Now the opinion part of this blog: Tampa and St. Pete need to unite or lose the team for good. These personal attacks from both sides are juvenile and don't solve anything. I also see comments in the comments section of these articles I've read that say "Don't raise my taxes". Now my opinion on this is one thing, either you raise taxes to fund a new stadium or lose the team you fought so hard to get in the first place to another market (read this and this to learn how hard the area fought to get the team). These juvenile attacks and selfish claims of "Don't raise my taxes" only increase the chance of losing the team. Now I live in Polk County, so none of the money problems really effect me so it's easy to claim these things. But I don't think I would feel any different if I was gonna be effected. This is my baseball team, I don't want to lose my team to San Antonio or some other market. St. Pete, by way of current mayor Bill Foster, could easily stop being selfish and let the Rays out of their lease for "The Trop" until 2027 to ease the legal situation so serious talks could commence about a new stadium. Use that High speed rail money from the Obama administration's "Stimulus bill" to fund a new stadium, we don't need that high speed rail anyway.

Bottom line: Tampa and St. Pete need to unite to fund and build a new stadium in either city or lose the team. Period.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.