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Rays' stadium saga on forefront of Tampa mayoral debate

12:58 AM, Feb 3, 2011   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida - Even though the Rays' stadium saga has been quiet this winter and the City of St. Petersburg remains at the helm of any possible negotiations, candidates hoping to become Tampa's next mayor in March tackled the issue at a debate Wednesday night.

Read all of 10 News' coverage of the Rays Stadium Saga

Bob Buckhorn, former city councilman: "There's no sense at getting in the middle of this divorce," adding St. Pete and the Rays need to sort their contract out first.  But since the Rays are "a regional asset," Buckhorn thinks Tampa Bay needs to keep them.  "I think, personally, (the best location for a stadium) is on the Tampa side.  My preference is in Downtown Tampa."  He said downtown successes in Denver, Baltimore, Boston, and San Francisco could be models for Tampa and while the city isn't in the position to spend money on a stadium, money for infrastructure could be a possibility.

Rose Ferlita, former city councilwoman and county commissioner: "Mayor Foster is a regional partner and...this is a contract and we must respect it."  If discussions fall apart in St. Petersburg, however, "and these guys are on their way to Arizona, I'm going to be the first one who tries to tackle them to keep them here."  Forget the fact that Arizona already has an MLB team, Ferlita says her efforts to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay would NOT involve public dollars.   

Dick Greco, seeking fifth term as mayor: "The Rays have a contract with St. Petersburg and that is to be honored."  Greco offered few specifics on how to keep the team in Tampa Bay, but laughed at the possibility of a stadium referendum.  "We're talking about a stadium that costs $550 million.  You think the (light rail) thing was bad? Try putting that on the ballot today.  It's not going to work."  Said private enterprises would have to step up to keep the Rays, who may leave anyway because baseball is a business.

Tom Scott, city councilman: "Should something happen (with St. Pete), I support what Chuck Sykes and the Tampa Chamber is doing right now."  Scott said the group's private caucus to study stadium feasibility was an important step toward keeping
"a huge economic engine" and wouldn't put the city in the dangerous position of possibly interfering with St. Petersburg's use agreement.

Ed Turanchik, former county commissioner: Said years dealing with Bucs, Yankees, and Lightning stadium issues were a distraction and the city has other priorities.  Took a shot at Greco's handling of the Bucs negotiations too, saying if Tampa does get sucked into the debate, he would hire better negotiators than the former mayor to make sure "taxpayer interests are protected and we know more than the Rays do about their business."

Follow 10 News reporter Noah Pransky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky, Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky, or on his Sports Business blog, Shadow of the Stadium.

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