In a recent letter to the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Mayor Rick Kriseman asked President Brian Auld to meet with developers proposing to redevelop the site of the stadium; however, the Rays declined the offer.
On June 1, Kriseman wrote Auld to inform him that two finalists have been selected – Midtown Development and JMA Ventures – and asked the Rays to meet with each developer on their vision for redeveloping the 86-acre site.
Auld responded to Kriseman via email, which the St. Pete City Council was copied on, and denied the ask.
“We remain focused on keeping Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come through the Sister City plan,” Auld wrote in an email to Kriseman on June 7. “It is disappointing that we have not had any substantive conversations with you or your staff since Jan. 6.”
In an interview with the St. Pete Catalyst, Kriseman said this was not the first attempt at reaching out to the Rays, nor will it be the last.
“I reached out to them when there were four finalists. We felt that now that it’s two it was really important to extend the invitation. They declined the invitation, but I do hope one day they will reconsider it sooner rather than later,” Kriseman said.
In the most recent letter to the Rays obtained by the Catalyst, Kriseman wrote:
“Because I sincerely believe an agreement between the city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays remains obtainable, and because the site, when developed, has the potential to have a strong, positive effect on the viability and financial success of the Rays, I wanted to formally extend an invitation to you and your team to meet individually with each finalist.”
He continued to say it would be an opportunity for the team to learn more about the vision for each site and ask questions to “get a sense of the potential working relationship you might have with each finalist.” He added that regardless of the Rays’ relationship with him, they should accept the offer to meet with the finalists.
Kriseman told the Catalyst the team was ready to meet with him; however, the lawsuit against Stu Sternberg, the principal owner, initially complicated the plan.
“I talked with Brian about sitting down, but the lawsuit came out. Once that lawsuit was filed, the city attorney recommended that once we have clarity around the issue to not move forward with meeting the team,” Kriseman said.
The city council has since then waived that recommendation, giving Kriseman the all-clear to move ahead.
“We are trying to get a meeting scheduled with the team, and I anticipate in the very near future that I will be sitting down with the team, and begin discussions with our sports consultant. The county administrator will also be at the table for those discussions,” Kriseman said.
He has plans of meeting with the developers this week regarding additional information for the proposed projects, including the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal.
Kriseman hopes to name the chosen developer soon and that an agreement will be reached this year.