St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says he’s prepared to redevelop the current Tropicana Field site once the Tampa Bay Rays’ lease expires in 2027.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon on Facebook, Kriseman said the city and the Rays “have concluded” discussions about Rays owner Stuart Sternberg’s idea of splitting the baseball season between St. Petersburg and Montreal.
Kriseman said he will hold the Rays to its lease obligation, meaning the team is bound to St. Petersburg until 2027. After that, though, he’s prepared to see the Rays relocate and develop the current Tropicana Field site.
“I continue to believe that the Rays organization will come to determine that the Tampa Bay area, and specifically St. Pete, remains the best place to play baseball 81 days a year and to succeed in the long-term,” Kriseman said in the statement. “The growth and vibrancy in the Sunshine City, and particularly in the area surrounding Tropicana Field, signals a bright future for that site.”
In a follow-up statement posted to Facebook, Kriseman said he would not entertain a split-season with Montreal.
"We are not a part-time city. We are not a part-time region," Kriseman said. "We are a Major League community. No one can doubt St. Pete and Tampa Bay's trajectory."
Kriseman reiterated the city’s stance that it is willing to discuss long-term stadium options for the Rays, although “we will not contribute public dollars to construct a stadium for a part-time team,” referring to Sternberg’s plan to split the season between St. Petersburg and Montreal.
“As such, with no imminent discussions pending regarding a new stadium for a full-time team, we will begin to evaluate our next steps in redeveloping at least parts of the site following additional public engagement,” Kriseman said.
Kriseman said the team began to consider alternate stadium sites 12 years ago, the latest being an $892 million site in Ybor City – the plans of which fell through last December.
He also said the team “declined my offer, made in the spirit of regionalism,” to explore other stadium options – including Tampa and Hillsborough County.
Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg issued a response Wednesday evening: “We agree generally with Mayor Kriseman’s characterization of our months of conversations, though we would like to clarify two points.
"First, we do not agree that this is the best path forward. Second, we asked for the opportunity to explore this concept with both St. Petersburg and Montreal, and with Tampa and Montreal," it said.
“We recognize that we must now consider our post-2027 options and all that entails, and we remain steadfast in our belief that the Sister City concept is deserving of serious consideration.”
A statement from Rays Principal Owner Stu Sternberg. pic.twitter.com/BVDNFfBJWb
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) December 4, 2019
This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF for updates.