ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - The chairman of the group researching a possible new Rays stadium location sent a letter to city leaders, urging them to re-consider a meeting. Two weeks ago, Mayor Bill Foster and City Council chair Leslie Curran said they would not meet with the ABC Coalition after it put the finishing touches on its final report.
The Coalition was commissioned in 2008 to researching the long-term feasibility of baseball in Tampa Bay. But after it started including areas of Hillsborough County in its findings - areas that appeared to be better locations than the current Downtown St. Pete location - St. Pete started to separate itself from the group.
When the group finished its final report on January 25, it planned to first present it to the St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County Commission. But St. Pete balked, prompting this letter from ABC Coalition chairman Jeff Lyash.
Lyash said that the advice to decline the Coaltion's invitation was "misguided."
"ABC is not advocating on behalf of either the Rays or the City, and has no authority to negotiate on behalf of either party," Lyash wrote. "Instead, ABC is merely reporting its findings. Findings prepared, in part, at the request of the City and the Rays."
He also addressed why the group decided to look at areas outside the City of St. Pete.
"The support of the entire Tampa Bay region is required to ensure long-term viability and therefore failure to consider the entire region in reaching conclusions regarding fan support, corporate support and ball park location would have been inconsistent with our mission."
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Noah Pransky, 10 Connects