ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Mayor Bill Foster issued a written reply to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday to continue to the stadium discussion the team began on Monday. The city's lawyer will also brief council at 8 a.m. on their legal options and associated case law.
READ: Mayor Bill Foster's letter to Rays owner Stuart Sternberg
While agreeing with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg that the Rays are a "regional asset," Mayor Foster says in the letter that any future home of the baseball team should be in Pinellas County.
"There is no resident of the entire region who has given up more in this quest for baseball than the resident of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County," Foster states in the letter.
However, the mayor does express a willingness to continue dialogue with Sternberg about a new ballpark "in spite of the fact that seventeen years remain on the existing agreement."
Sternberg had wanted to explore future stadium options in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, but Foster says only Pinellas options should be considered.
"We will consider any potential ballpark site in the St. Petersburg and the Gateway, but only as part of a process that recognizes and rewards the previous and ongoing investment and commitment of the St. Petersburg and Pinellas County resident, and thus, no sites outside of our geographic boundaries will be considered."
Earlier, 10 Connects spoke to Foster at a budget forum where the city detailed its plan to cut 31 positions and cut back on library, pool, and firefighting services.
Many other services were spared in the 2011 budget, but another $10 million deficit is planned for 2012 because of declining property values. There is also concern the oil spill effect could make matters worse.
"Yeah, there couldn't have been a worse time," Foster said of the Rays' request.
But Foster and several councilmembers said they were pleased the conversation had started. And they look forward to working with the Rays on their needs. However, the city remains guarded when it comes to its investment and has warned other municipalities not to interfere with its contract.
Read previous stories on the Rays' Stadium Saga.
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