Rays owner asks St. Pete for 50 acres of free land for part-time stadium

Last Friday was the deadline for developers to submit plans to St. Petersburg for ways to redevelop the site of Tropicana Field if and when the Tampa Bay Rays depart, and there’s lots of interest, with eight different developers submitting plans (which aren’t being made public just yet). But Mayor Rick Kriseman is already saying that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is threatening to undermine the entire project by demanding a bigger cut of revenues for himself:

“I want the Rays to remain in St. Petersburg and I’m willing to work with them to make it happen,” Kriseman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But I’m not giving the city away.”…

“Right now, they’re entitled to 50 percent of the proceeds and that’s with a full-time team in the city,” Kriseman said. “And they’re proposing to take 100 percent of the proceeds for a large part of that land, and 50 percent for the rest of it. And that’s for a part-time team.

At stake here is the Rays’ use agreement with the city, which guarantees the team half of all development fees if the site is redeveloped before the agreement expires in 2028. Sternberg, apparently trying to use the city’s hunger to development site and fatigue over the team’s never-ending stadium saga as leverage, has according to the mayor demanded 50 acres of land all for his own self, which would provide room for both a new stadium and a park and 25 acres of other development, the proceeds from which would help defray stadium costs.

In other words, this is very much the Los Angeles Angels model of “don’t give us cash, just give us land” model, except that Sternberg would almost certainly demand cash as well. Also he would be demanding cash and free land in exchange for a part-time team, since he’s still holding to that insane Tampontreal Ex-Rays split-city plan.

Kriseman said all this right in front of Sternberg, who was at the press conference and immediately retorted that just because he asked for something doesn’t mean he was demanding it:

Sternberg said the “proposal was just that: A proposal. We thought it would be a beginning point to get things moving along. We’ll leave it to private discussions and we look forward to being here for generations to come.”

“Here” at least part of the time, anyway. This seems like an easy one for Kriseman to say hell nah to — at worst, Sternberg doesn’t agree and the city has to wait seven whole years to redevelop the Trop site — but clearly he’s listening, so everyone keep a close eye on those “private discussions.”

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10 comments on “Rays owner asks St. Pete for 50 acres of free land for part-time stadium

  1. “We’ll leave it to private discussions…” says Sternberg.

    Yeah, so Sternberg won’t continue looking like a total greedy jackass all the time in front of a camera. Just when he is behind closed doors in private discussions.

    Good for the mayor.

  2. This is just like a bad divorce. Both sides are needlessly dragging it out when a deal should be simple. Sternberg knows there is no long term future in St Pete. The stadium is almost paid off. I think there is only one bond left which should be down to about $10 million. The city can do well to sell the land. Just negotiate a separation and leave.

          1. But he seems to think he will have a stadium there and one in the Bay area by 2028.

            You know that old saying about how if you owe someone $100,000, you’ve got a problem, but if you owe someone $100 million, THEY’ve got a problem?

            The closer we get to 2028, St. Pete has a stadium, but Sternberg has no lease and no viable place to go (unless he just sells to someone who moves to temp digs in Vegas or something).

            The longer this goes on, it feels like Sternberg’s options dwindle, not the city’s. The city can hold its breath for seven years and redevelop the site for itself.

            Sternberg has to do SOMETHING before 2028.

          2. They could play at Olympic Stadium while a new stadium is built. If they could figure out a separation agreement with St Pete they could get a deal done in Montreal/Charlotte/Portland/Vegas or whoever.

  3. The coverage in the Tampa Bay Times (including a “make a deal, you guys” editorial) somehow didn’t mention that, after bitching about the Trop’s lousy location for more than ten years, suddenly it’s just peachy keen with Sternberg as long as he gets tons of dough.

  4. Kriseman should stop playing nice with the extortionists and realize he (or rather the agency he represents) has the power in this negotiation.

    If he agrees to any kind of a development deal with Sternberg before 2027, Sternberg gets a cut of the redevelopment of the site. If he waits, St. Pete does not have to share with anyone.

    His “Committed” owner has already tried to leave multiple times, despite having a lease that requires him to play at the Trop. He has also made multiple public bad faith negotiations despite language in the lease agreement that, at least in spirit, bars him from even talking to anyone else about playing games elsewhere before 2028.

    Sternberg has made it abundantly clear he isn’t putting his own money into a new stadium (or at least not much of it). TSP area fans don’t seem committed to supporting the team (and there are many reasons for this, of course, not all of which are related to Sternberg or the team or their love of baseball), and the land under the stadium would produce much more revenue if used for any purpose other than the one it is currently tied to.

    This should be the simple decision imaginable.

    Agree to nothing with the Rays other than that you will sell them some land somewhere else if they wish to build their own stadium. Let the lease expire (possibly while treating Mr. Sternberg just the way he has treated Tampa-St Pete pols and fans for the past dozen or so years). Then sell the site for redevelopment.

    Tell this carpetbagger to take his perennially low budget MLB team and stick it. Why do politicians in Tampa-St. Pete care about MLB when the fans mostly don’t?

    Maybe some sucker in another city will build him a stadium and pay him to have his team play in it. But I doubt it, frankly. And it certainly won’t happen any time soon.

    You can always be very accommodating by offering to let him keep playing at the Trop from 2028 and beyond if he can’t find anywhere else to play… for $15m a year in rent (less than $200k per game? It’s a steal!), payable in full on April 2nd of every year. He might be able to rent Legends cheaper than that. Or not.

  5. The Rays owner should be ashamed of himself, this proposal is ridiculous. It’s like the movie Billy Madison “at no point were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.”

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