Countdown to Spring Training: Day 40

TB Rays

As we continue to count the days until the start of spring training, some Rays fans wonder what the future holds for the Tampa Bay team. In a radio interview this morning, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn discussed the possibility of moving the Rays out of St. Petersburg.

Buckhorn described himself “as commited as can be” to the Tampa Bay Rays, who he called “a regional asset.”

… we’ve got to put our best minds to the task. Clearly [baseball] doesn’t work in St. Petersburg, I think everyone has acknowledged that. The performance and the attendance has demonstrated that that is a failed business model.

Buckhorn conceeded that anywhere in the Bay Area is fine with him, so long as the Tampa Bay region does not lose the team. On where the best location would be:

My preference would be somewhere in downtown Tampa. I think that’s the Rays preference. I think that’s Major League Baseball’s preference. I think the economic impact, and the development that would occur around that stadium would be best suited in downtown Tampa.

We don’t know [exactly] where, there are a number of options.

While these might be perceived as fighting words, if you’re say the Mayor of St. Petersburg — the newly elected Rick Kriseman — Mayor Buckhorn talked positively about what he expects their working relationship to be, saying Kriseman has been a “very, very good friend for over twenty years.”

Buckhorn called Kriseman a reasonable person that wants to keep the Rays in the Bay Area, and acknowledged the task at hand:

Obviously, he’s got to protect the financial interest of St. Petersburg. They’ve got to be made whole on their investments. They can’t be left stuck with debt.

What remains is: what’s the price for the Rays for allowing them to look, or to eventually leave.

Mayor Buckhorn spoke confidently in Mayor Kriseman to guide his city through an emotional and complicated time.

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