Travis Waldron of ThinkProgress thoughtfully ran down five elections yesterday with stadium implications, from a vote on rehabbing the Astrodome to decisions on new mayors for cities facing sports venue battles. And the results are:
- Defeated: Stuart Sternberg’s nemesis Bill Foster is out of a job, as the St. Petersburg mayor was defeated 56-44% by Rick Kriseman, a former city councilmember and state representative. Foster was famously opposed to even discussing letting Sternberg’s Tampa Bay Rays out of their lease on Tropicana Field (though he’d backed down on that a bit of late); Kriseman has promised to ”initiate conversations about the future of the team in St. Pete and in this area,” which could mean, um, anything? And he’s also said he’d want to the Rays to pay something for being let out of their lease, though not how much, which is going to be the key element as far as Sternberg is concerned. Suffice to say that the Rays battleground has shifted, anyway.
- Rejected: A $217 million proposal to renovate the now-vacant Astrodome as a convention and event center was narrowly defeated, 53-47%. The Eighth Wonder of the World and sort-of birthplace of fake grass will now likely be demolished, which is kind of sad as it’s certainly a historic structure; on the other hand, $217 million to remake it as the world’s most ill-advisedly retrofitted convention center would have given new meaning to throwing good money after bad.
- Elected: Bill Peduto as mayor of Pittsburgh, in a landslide. Peduto had previously come out against the Steelers owners’ demand for $20 million in public money to add more seats, so presumably this makes that less likely to happen now.
- Elected: Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City, in an even bigger landslide. De Blasio will need to decide on plans for a new stadium for New York City F.C., as yet still in the formative stages; he’s previously said he’s against tax giveaways, but open to listening on stadium ideas, blah blah blah. It’ll certainly be a change from Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who never met a development project he didn’t like, but de Blasio hasn’t made ending tax subsidies a core part of his campaign or anything.
- Elected: Betsy Hodges as mayor of Minneapolis, where the Vikings stadium deal still isn’t 100% set in stone, what with the cost overruns and the seat license controversy and all that. Hodges has pledged not to give the Vikings any more money, but given that the 0.5% city sales tax surcharge for the stadium has already been approved and the state now controls the project, it’s frankly doubtful whether her position will end up mattering much.
The big one to watch immediately is clearly the St. Pete mayoral situation, given that Sternberg is undoubtedly going to be one of the first to call on Kriseman wishing to start those promised “conversations.” There are still a heck of a lot of obstacles to the Rays getting a new building — how on earth to pay for it, mostly — but Foster, at least, is no longer one of them.