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Will the Rays Remain in Pinellas County?

On Tuesday, the Pinellas County Commission voted to have a meeting with the Rays in hopes of keeping the team in Pinellas County.

On Tuesday, the Pinellas County Commission voted to have a meeting with the management of Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of keeping the team in Pinellas County. 

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the vote came after recent actions taken by Hillsborough County and Tampa to attract the Rays across the bay. Mayor Bill Foster, the Times reported, gave the county the push it needed to take action. 

"Pinellas County administrator Bob LaSala said the invitation came in response to comments made by St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster in a Tampa Bay Times story about Hillsborough's overtures to the Rays. Foster characterized it as "outside interference" into a matter that should be kept between the baseball team, his city and Pinellas County. Never before, said Pinellas Commissioner Susan Latvala, had Foster acknowledged the county could have a role in persuading the Rays to stay."

Council member Steve Kornell posted on Facebook that he approves of a meeting between the Rays and Pinellas County. 

"I fully support this meeting between the Pinellas County Commission and St. Pete City Council in regard to the Rays. I think there are many ideas we can put forward to help the team. Here are two of mine, what about yours? 

1.) It would be great if there were some type of transportation going from spots in Tampa and dropping people at the Trop on game nights. Perhaps PSTA and HART could discuss this idea. 

2.) Other team have sold seat licenses (including the Bucs if I remember correctly) to help fund a stadium. This seems like something we could kick off and would start positive momentum no matter the final location of the stadium within our region." 

Earlier this year, Foster and St. Pete this year. 

Voicing its unanimous support of the Rays at a January Council meeting, council voted to become "ambassadors" for the Rays to help bring more people into the Trop.

“To me this is the logical (step),” said council member Karl Nurse. “Very clear we need to sell more tickets or we (won’t) have a baseball team.”

Attendance this year at the Trop, however, has continued to be an issue. Through Aug. 7 the Rays had the third worst attendance in Major League Baseball with 20,768 a game.

Prior to the All-Star Game festivities in Kansas City in July, . 

According to MLB.com, Selig said with a competitive team like the Rays it is "inexcusable" for attendance to be so low at the Trop. 

"To study the attendance figures every day and see that they're 29th in attendance, it's inexcusable," Selig said. "Nobody can defend that. This is a very competitive baseball team. The average Major League attendance is between 31,000 and 32,000. And if my memory is serving me well, Tampa Bay's attendance is around 19-something. It's disappointing."

The Rays’ lease at the Trop does not run out until 2027.

Jeannie Cline August 08, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Dream on, Mr Kornell!!! The Rays are going to Tampa which is now the geographic center of Tampa Bay. There's a reason, beyond high ticket prices, that people don't go to the Trop in droves. Imagine living in one of the numerous suburbs in our sprawled out region....the day at work was tough, the kids are late coming home from their friend's house or other activity, traffic jams delayed your arrival at home so it is now past 6 pm, dinner hasn't been served, etc....do you think that a typical family is going to load up the minivan, drive about an hour to the Trop, deal with traffic near the stadium and the parking lots, spend about $200 for a family of four on a weeknight, leave early from the game at around 9:30 in order to avoid more traffic and to get out of the parking lot easily, so you can get the kids in bed before 11pm? This is a typical scenario, I would imagine and with a stadium that is more centrally located, as in downtown Tampa, at least the commute to the stadium is reduced substantially and if we were ever to get our public officials to get on board and get a public water taxi service going to Tampa from St Pete, well I could live with the Rays relocating. It would be fun to take a boat to a new stadium near Channelside.
Jeannie Cline August 08, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Mr Kornell means well, he's always there offerring suggestions to get things rolling. I just get tired, though, of elected representatives pushing for more buses when, in reality, most of our public servants use the bus on a regular basis. They probably have car and gas allowances from the tax coffers and it is just so trendy these days for our reps to push more buses. My gosh, there aren't even covered waiting areas for the bus stops we have now. This is amazing since there is a threat of lightning and rain, not to mention the horrible heat and intense sun.
Jeannie Cline August 08, 2012 at 05:32 PM
oops....they DON'T use the bus on a regular basis!!!
Steve Kornell August 11, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Jeannie - I do not receive a gas or car allowance. If we had busses that ran every 15 mins I would use them. I agree with you about the bus stops. However, just because the curent bus service isnot working as well as it could does not mean it never can. I think we need to have open discussion on this topic and use the great expertise of our citizens to improve services. Steve Kornell
Jack Sprat August 12, 2012 at 06:24 AM
PSTA is a black hole sucking money out of taxpayers wallets. Mr. Kornell has been drinking the Nurse/Latvala/Welch/Seel kool aid. PSTA consistently fails to provide a useful bus system while milking the local, state and federal taxpayers of their money. But that is not enough - now they are talking about a 1% sales tax increase to help fund a billion dollar train from St. Pete to Clearwater! Why not run a bus on the same route and see how many really want to go that way? They tout "record ridership" but fail to mention that less than 3% of county residents ride the buses and those that do pay an average of $1 per trip while taxpayers pay the other $3 - and that is just for operating costs. ALL capital costs are paid for by taxpayers. When will our politicians learn to stop wasting money? All they can think about is more ways to spend our money.
Jack Sprat August 12, 2012 at 06:24 AM
As for the Rays - they aren't going anywhere unless taxpayers foot the bill for a new stadium. The reasion the Rays are one of the most profitable teams in MLB is that WE PAY THEM to play in the Trop - on top of paying for the building, maintenance and interest on the money borrowed to build it. It is a sweet deal for the Rays - the reason they are threatening to leave is to blackmail us into building a new stadium for them. They almost succeeded a few years ago - imagine where we would be today if we were saddled with paying $500 Million for that waterfront stadium! And all our city council did was continue "the process" of getting citizen input, the same scam as with the pier. They do not know how to just say NO.

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