The Tampa Bay Rays future in the region continues to be a hot topic around the country after yesterday’s hearings held in Hillsborough County. After five years of winning baseball at Tropicana Field, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said during yesterday’s hearings with the Hillsborough County Commission that his fellow MLB owners are growing tired of the situation in St. Petersburg.
"Put yourself in their place. They look at the success, we have an exciting team, and then they see where the gate is. They don't care whether it's Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa. They just know this as Tampa Bay.''
The Rays current lease with the city of St. Petersburg runs through 2027. While MLB’s growing frustration continues with the Rays situation in Tampa Bay, the Mayor of St. Petersburg Bill Foster tells 620 WDAE’s Ron Diaz that his job is to stick up for his town.
“Mr. Sternberg needs to talk to the people in the city of St. Petersburg” said Foster in an exclusive one on one interview Friday. “Don’t just say I can’t make it work, region fix it. You still owe St. Petersburg and Pinellas County something.”
Foster went on to say that he recognizes that he is the “whipping boy” of Tampa Bay, and the pressure of this story has at times grown tiresome with him personally.
“If it was just me or if I was the only guy in this. I’ve been beaten down so much I’m almost to a point you know, just go already” Foster said.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said during yesterday’s hearings that Tropicana Field is “not a sustainable long-term option.” Mayor Foster says he must do what he is elected to do.
“My job is to those tax payers who stood up in the 1980’s and 1990’s that actually brought this team here” said Foster. “Those people gave Mr. Sternberg the privilege of being one of a chosen thirty to control a Major League Baseball team.”
“Those are the people who are being ignored in this” said Foster.
Mayor Foster did say that he understands the frustration part of the entire situation.
“I know Mr. Sternberg is frustrated, and Bud Selig is frustrated. I’m frustrated” said Foster. “We (St. Petersburg) are Tampa Bay. But it’s being ignored the commitment that both parties made to each other is being ignored.”
“There is fifteen years pre-mature on the expiration of their lease. I believe with those fifteen years, this side of Tampa Bay is owed something” said Foster. “The idea that you can throw it out and offer zero in return, I’m frustrated.”