Rays Turn Down Latest St. Pete Offer
The Tampa Bay Rays have turned down the the city of St. Petersburg's proposal that would allow the team out of its Tropicana Field lease for an exit fee.
The arrangement would have let the team look outside the city to build a new stadium before its contract ends in 2027.
In exchange, the Rays would have had to pay $33 million if it left in 2020 for Hillsborough County, $16.5 for another site in Pinellas County, and nothing if it built elsewhere in the city.
St Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman met with Rays officials for about an hour Thursday before the team turned the offer down.
Kriseman remained optimistic after the announcement.
"Obviously I'm disappointed today, but I can't say I'm surprised by the outcome," Kriseman told Bay News 9. "I'm still committed to doing everything I can to to try and keep the team here in St. Petersburg. So, my intention is to continue to have discussions with the Rays and see what we can work out and hopefully come to an agreement that's acceptable to the city council and acceptable to the Rays."
Rays' president Brian Auld issued a statement a short time later:
"Although we appreciate the time and attention that Mayor Kriseman and the city council have dedicated to this issue, we do not agree to this proposal. We remain open to pursuing a cooperative path forward."
Further negotiations between the Rays and the city could be affected by next week's city council elections: four of the eight council seats are up for a vote.
The council approved the arrangement last week by a 5-3 margin.
Two similar plans proposed by Kriseman that would have cost the Rays $17 million if they left the Trop early were rejected by the city council in the last year.