City council votes down deal requiring Rays to pay through 2026
While Mayor Rick Kriseman said he would let the Tampa Bay Rays baseball club look for a stadium outside of the city limits if that's what the team really wanted to do, he promised during his campaign that St. Petersburg residents wouldn't be cheated.
At first, it seemed like Kriseman was keeping this promise when he presented the City Council on Dec. 8, 2014, with a plan to allow the team to search for a new stadium site. The plan required the Rays to pay the city a fee if they moved. (It did not require the Rays to pay an exploratory fee to look, another campaign promise we're tracking.)
Kriseman's "memorandum of understanding" gave the team until Dec. 31, 2017, to decide on a new location for a stadium. The Rays would then have had to pay the city a fee depending on how long was left in the team's lease if they leave town, starting at $4 million a season until December 2018, dropping to $3 million a season from 2019 to 2022 and $2 million from 2023 through 2026. The team's current lease expires in 2027.
The Rays also would have to provide in-kind compensation of up to $1 million, possibly in the form of season tickets for marketing the city and signs in the new stadium touting St. Petersburg.
The deal fell through on Dec. 18, however, after questions from council member Karl Nurse about whether the city would be able to keep 100 percent of the profits from land leasing and redevelopment at the Tropicana Field site between the time the Rays started their search and began playing in a new stadium. The team's current agreement allows them to split such profits with the city, a plan Rays President Brian Auld wanted to keep in place, and Kriseman said could be negotiated later.
That displeased council, which voted down Kriseman's plan, 5-3. There currently is no timetable for creating a new agreement.
Kriseman's plan to let the Rays search for a new stadium site may have arguably protected St. Pete taxpayers, requiring the team to pay the city millions to get out of its lease. But the agreement was voted down. With some hard feelings complicating discussions at the moment, there's currently no other contract being drafted by the city or the team.
Still, we suspect we haven't heard the last about negotiations between the city and the Rays. In the meantime, we rate this promise Stalled.
Tampa Bay Times, "Rays and Kriseman reach agreement to allow Hillsborough stadium search," Dec. 8, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "Kriseman-Rays stadium deal is in the works, but meets complications," Dec. 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "Sternberg calls deal fair, says with no new stadium team likely to be sold, moved," Dec. 9, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "Vote on Rays stadium deal is delayed a week," Dec. 10, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "No rubber stamp from City Council for St. Petersburg's deal with Rays," Dec. 17, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "St. Petersburg City Council rejects Rays stadium search deal," Dec. 18, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "Rays' president strikes cooperative tone on stadium deal with St. Petersburg," Dec. 19, 2014