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Kriseman Says He Can’t Negotiate With Rays Due To Minority Owner Lawsuit

Kriseman also suggested during a radio interview that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg step down until the suit runs its course.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says he wants a lawsuit resolved before he continues negotiations with the Tampa Bay Rays over the team's future in the city.

Kriseman made the comments two days before he was expected to announce two finalists to redevelop the Tropicana Field site

Minority owners in the team are suing principal owner Stu Sternberg. The lawsuit, first reported by the Tampa Bay Times, alleges Sternberg conspired to take full control of the ball club and held secret negotiations with Canadian officials over a plan to split seasons between Montreal and Florida.

Speaking on the J.P. Peterson Show Wednesday, Kriseman said Sternberg should step down from the Rays until the suit runs its course.

“The appropriate thing to do at this point in time would be to step aside from the day-to-day management and operations of the club. I'm not saying that it has to be permanent, but certainly at least until the litigation is resolved,” Kriseman said.

Sternberg denies the allegations.

The suit comes as Kriseman and the St. Petersburg City Council are at odds over redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site.

Kriseman wants to decide as soon as possible, even though the Rays have yet to announce where they will play once their lease on the ballpark expires in 2027. The city council wants that issue resolved before moving ahead with redevelopment of the site.

Over the past several months, the city has taken public comment on four proposals to reimagine the stadium site as a blend of residential, business and community spaces that may or may not include a baseball park.

And while Kriseman is moving forward with a plan to name a developer next month, the city council says he’s moving too fast. They’ve passed a resolution asking him to resolve issues with the Tampa Bay Rays first. The team’s lease on the Trop expires in 2027, and it isn’t clear where the team will go after that.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Times reports Rays officials asked for a meeting with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor last month and have resurrected the idea of building a stadium in Ybor City.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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