St. Pete to meet with developer on proposed Rays stadium, under vow of silence

Looks like Darryl LeClair, the developer who says he wants to build a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium in St. Petersburg, may get to meet with the St. Pete council about it, but whether he’ll actually talk to the Rays is less certain. Thanks to the Rays’ lease that prohibits them (or the city) from even talking about new stadiums until their old stadium lease expires in 2027, the city has done some fancy footwork to come up with ground rules that will stay within the terms of the lease: LeClair will present his plan at a public hearing of the city council, with members of the Pinellas County commission invited as well; no elected officials present will question LeClair during the hearing, but they can go off and meet in private if they want; and LeClair can talk to the media afterwards, but not the Rays without the city’s permission.

None of which sounds like it’ll make for a gripping webcast, but it does make sense from Mayor Bill Foster’s perspective: It asserts the primacy of the Rays lease, and tries to ensure that if any talking is done about a new stadium, it’ll be on St. Pete’s terms. All indications so far are that the Rays aren’t interested in doing it that way — execs have made it clear that they’d prefer a free-for-all with all local cities and counties bidding for their affections, duh — but if LeClair comes up with a tempting enough offer, you never know.

Of course, all of this presupposes that LeClair actually has an idea for how to pay for a stadium without massive public subsidies, something that has so far eluded, oh, pretty much everyone everywhere. But at least you have to give Foster some credit for keeping the wishful thinking strictly on his own terms.

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