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Rays Stadium Saga: Pinellas commissioners will invite team and City of St. Petersburg to conference

3:58 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Pinellas County commissioners voted 6-0 Tuesday to invite the Tampa Bay Rays, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, and the St. Petersburg City Council to a meeting to discuss the ball club's future plans.

Like Hillsborough County, Pinellas County was respecting Foster's threat of legal action if any parties tried to interfere with the binding contract between St. Petersburg and the Rays.

But just like Hillsborough County commissioners decided last week, Pinellas County commissioners decided the risk of legal action was minimal, especially if St. Petersburg accepts the invitation.

TIMELINE: The Rays' Stadium Saga

While not a party to the 30-year use agreement that binds the Rays to Tropicana Field through 2027, Pinellas County is a major stakeholder in the dealings, since it pays off a portion of the stadium's bonds through tourist taxes.

Every Pinellas County Commissioner supported the motion, except Karen Seel, who was absent Tuesday.

When told of the decision, St. Petersburg Councilmember Steve Kornell said he would be "very open" to the discussion.

"I think it's a positive thing and it makes a lot of sense for Pinellas County," Kornell added.  "They're one of the stakeholders that has financial investment in the Rays and...they've put their money where their mouth is."

"We don't know at what point in the future a news stadium will be needed, so it makes sense to have the discussion now," Kornell said.

"It always makes sense to talk," Councilman Karl Nurse said.  "Any future stadium will need to be part of a larger redevelopment plan so as to generate the public and private funds necessary."

Find 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook or follow his updates on Twitter. Read his Sports Business Blog at Shadow of the Stadium.

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