The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, has denied Tampa Bay’s request to search for a new field location. The official vote was tallied 5-3, turning down the proposal that would’ve given the Rays three years to look for a new stadium site.
The news comes as a big blow to the Rays organization, as they had been looking to move into the actual Tampa Bay area in order to generate more revenue, as well as make attending games easier for Rays fans in the Tampa area.
The city council’s main concern was the economic hit the city of St. Petersburg would take with the Rays’ departure. Part of the proposal was for the Rays to pay compensation at the end of each baseball season to the city, starting with payments of $5 million through 2018, then $3 million through 2023, and $2 million through the rest of the lease, which expires in 2027.
The city council apparently did not believe that compensation would be enough to make up for the economic losses if the Rays were to relocate, and denied the proposal despite urging from Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Rays president Brian Auld expressed his disappointment with the rejection in a released statement, “We are obviously disappointed with the City Council’s decision today, our goal was to begin a collaborative, exploratory process in our region to determine the best location for a next generation ballpark. The Council has instead decided that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Petersburg.”
The Council did vote to hold a workshop to discuss building a new stadium elsewhere in the St. Petersburg area, but Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had already warned council members earlier in the month that if they voted against the proposal, he would not negotiate again, and would sell the team to someone who would move the team after 2027. This puts the city of St. Petersburg and Ray’s fans very much in danger of losing their team after 2027.