Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Rays and the Second Season

As the fall negotiating season opens, the Rays management wants to avoid a repeat of past performances.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.

For the last few years, the Tampa Bay Rays have been playing four seasons in St. Petersburg.

There is spring training, the regular season, the fall politics season and the winter negotiating season.

You are probably pretty familiar with spring training and the regular season, the fall political season and the winter negotiating season maybe not so much.

The fall political season is that period where the St. Pete City Council, the Pinellas County Commission, Tampa and to some degree Hillsborough County tries to get their various proposals, positions, money and ducks in a row.

Typically, there are a lot of pitches, mostly softballs, a few strikes and a lot of outs.

This year the tension between the Mayor Rick Kriseman, Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes and City Council has boiled over into the St. Pete City Council elections where at least one media outlet, the Tampa Bay Times, has tried to make the District Seven City Council race all about baseball.

The Second Season will actually kick off later this month when a new proposal from City Council is supposed to surface on October 15th, and we may find out if Mayor Kriseman is going to throw hard balls by refusing to do the studies the City Council has requested or refuse to present the City Council proposal.

The Rays will hold their wrap-up  news conference later this week, and you can look for some preliminary public talks with the Mayor and someone from the Rays probably in a month or so. The Mayor's office would like everyone to think some talks have been ongoing, but I think that is not likely.

The other players, The Pinellas County Commission and the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council are now touting a mega sized spring training initiative at Toytown the former landfill (dump) and making soft but definitely threatening noises to move tourist tax revenue from a Rays stadium to the dump... err landfill.

Most curious has been the lack of any major-league  baseball interest from Hillsborough County or Mayor Kriseman's buddy Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Since Jeff Vinik indicated that baseball was not the "best and highest" use of his downtown development property a major-league baseball stadium has not been a hot topic across the Bay.

Look for some high and outside pitches from across the Bay just to keep things interesting, but unless a really deep pocked angel shows up or MLB becomes so disgusted with St. Pete and Pinellas County they are willing to pony up some serious money and/or concessions the pickens for a new stadium in Hillsborough may be a bit slim.

As the fall politics season wraps up and City Council and the Mayor try to get a unified game plan in place things could get a bit testy. Kriseman has not had a political win in some time and getting a Rays deal to look for a new stadium on his terms would be a big win.

If Charlie Gerdes can be the one who puts the Rays stadium deal together, the Mayor and his dream team will continue to look like the ineffective bunch the really are.

As the fall negotiating season opens, the Rays management from President Brian Auld right on down want to avoid a repeat of past performances where they got asked questions they could not or did not want to answer and ended up in political fights, they 1) had no interest in and 2) could not win.

Just given the Rays trepidation and speed at which baseball approaches problems like the Ray's stadium dilemma, don't look for much to happen before the November election, and if that goes badly it could be January before any really substantive talks result in a new and acceptable proposal.

Meanwhile, the spring training proposal for Toytown will continue to move along.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Disclosures:
Contributor: Waterfront Charter Amendment (Vote on The Pier), Carly Fiorina for President
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