The St. Pete city council members have agreed to financially support the hiring contract of a consulting firm to negotiate a stadium deal with the Tampa Bay Rays–particularly dealing with a potential split-season scenario.
On Thursday, the council unanimously approved a resolution to enter an interlocal agreement between the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County to provide funds for the hiring of New York-based Inner Circle Sports LLC.
“We are very happy to partner with the city to really look at the financial aspects of what it would take to have Major League Baseball stay,” Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said. “This gets us to the point where we have a viable term sheet.”
The county started working with the group in June. Under the agreement with the city, the city would provide $42,250, which is half of the compensation for the contract.
In the first discussion with Inner Circle, the county said the group remained very confident about reviewing the financial aspects and the complexity of the Rays organization possibly splitting its season between St. Pete and Montreal.
“This is absolutely the right thing to do and I’ve been in support of signing on a stadium consultant from the get-go,” Councilmember Darden Rice said. She added how the firm would also provide a clear understanding of the MLB franchise and handle on the Rays financial situation regarding the costs they have to incur and considerable profits.
Burton explained it will be a three-phased process and that more costs for the consulting firm are expected to surface.
The process includes understanding the business strategies and perspective of how to put together a term sheet to move things forward.
“They’ve been meeting with the team and are working jointly to do that type of review,” Burton said. “At the end of the day, it’s still going to be painful. But the question is what does it take to make a deal happen?”