St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster is Eager to Chat with the Rays
If you have viewed the any of the three attached Youtube videos, then you might be with me that the City of St. Petersburg and its new Mayor Bill Foster are totally on board with speaking and discussing the Tampa Bay Rays future in the St. Petersburg surrounding community. We all know that sometimes the local media (Tampa Tribune) can show their own one-side response and closed-end stories relating to this pressing Tampa Bay issue. So it was refreshing to see on a St. Pete TV video taken during the April 15th session of the St. Petersburg City Council meeting that Mayor Foster was more than eager on video that he is “willing to work with the Rays as a partner” on the stadium issue.
And Mayor Foster and his City Council are well within their collective rights and civic responsibilities to take a bit of a breather and wait for the Rays to finish their current goals, then approach the Rays to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Mayor Foster showed great vision by saying the support for this team needs to be “regional” and not just localized within his city limits. And I loved Mayor Foster’s comment that ” no one here is the bad guy”, because in most of the media reports floating out there in Internet land from the Tampa-based side of the bay seems to place blame upon the City of St. Petersburg as being mute and deaf towards the Rays. We now know that notion to be a fable.
These videos show that Mayor Foster is more than receptive to having any type of discussions with the Rays on finding a suitable stadium resolution, but Mayor Foster also understands the Rays current code of silence as the team’s main focus is their pursuit of another American League East title, and hopefully more this season. And Mayor Fosters statement of supporting the Rays projects shows a distinctive positive open line of communications between the Rays, the St. Petersburg City Council, and Mayor Foster.
On the videos, you see that the City of St. Petersburg does respect the Rays organization fully and wants to keep a open level of dialogue with the Rays, plus are totally open to the notion of waiting until the end of the 2010 season before beginning serious Rays discussions. The City of St. Petersburg has somehow been viewed as the “bad guy” in this situation by not initially showing positive support for the non-binding findings of the ABC (A Baseball Community) Coalition because of their insistence in providing stadium options outside the city limits of St. Petersburg for a potential Rays future stadium.
The Coalition’s original mission statement was to seek inner St. Petersburg city location options to propose to the Rays organization, not venture out into other Tampa Bay locales. ABC Coalition took it upon itself to deviate from the original mission statement. The ABC Coalition final report is a volatile political firestorm that is mired in procedural potholes and fiscal limitation traps that could have condemned any talks between the Rays and St. Petersburg in an early effort to discuss the options based on the ABC Coalitions deviation from their original mission.
Because of the ABC groups refusal to follow the city’s set parameters, it instantly isolated the City of St. Petersburg to show plausible and viable local options within the city, and has been played out by opposing media segments as a convoluted and inaccurate portrayal of the city’s real intentions to ever consult with the Rays. Even though the ABC Coalition was first devised ,and originated in cooperation with former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, the ABC Coalition quickly took on a life of its own and veered way off course from the initial protocol to explore local St. Petersburg Rays stadium locations.
And by the City of St. Petersburg staying silent for so long on the final ABC’s findings, the City of St. Petersburg became the instant political scapegoat for organizations wanting to point a finger at a governmental agency in regards to the Rays stadium situation. By Mayor Foster’s own words, he spoke candidly that he ” can not make the Rays come to the table right now because they are busy trying to win a Pennant”. The past media reports illustrating the city of St. Petersburg collectively sitting on their hands or with their hands across their mouths has been greatly exaggerated, but that might just be the political climate right now to remain calm, cool and collected until the Rays make their next move..
By Mayor Foster saying he wants to ” assure their (the Rays) success not only on the field, but off the field.” It might be the first time we have heard an “official” voicing by a member of the City of St. Petersburg’s administration on the whole Rays stadium situation since the ABC debacle. But I really like the last segment of the third video where Mayor Foster stated that the “focus ( of the Rays) right now was to win a Pennant, and the focus of the day for us (City of St. Petersburg) is to demonstrate our commitment by getting fans in the seats.” You can bet there are a few Rays Front Office grins from ear-to-ear after hearing that wisdom coming from City Council chamber within the St. Petersburg City Hall.
I have to be honest that I really felt the City of St. Petersburg might have been stonewalling the Rays in regards to the whole Rays stadium endeavor. But the videos show that the City of St. Petersburg, and their Mayor are actually letting the Rays conduct their business currently at hand, before diluting and separating the stadium situation possibly as soon as after the 2010 season. That is the first real solid vocal evidence we have seen that the City of St. Petersburg is not tone deaf to the idea of a possible stadium, but also the first real vocal acknowledgment of open dialogue towards talking with the Rays.
Kudos to Mayor Foster for saying these thoughts during a City Council meeting. It is about time that the Rays Republic hears something besides the other side of Tampa Bay arguing and posturing for a potential Rays stadium. It shows there is an open invitation by the city for the Rays to sit down again with Mayor Foster and begin to hash out segments of the stadium situation in a positive vein. One of the reason I voted for Foster as our next St. Petersburg Mayor was his stark talk about keeping this team in our community. Another reason I voted for him was that he had a plan of having this entire Tampa Bay community co-exist with the Rays still situated within the city limits of St. Petersburg.
Most people forget that the land situated just off of I-275 and Ulmerton Road at the Southern mouth of the Howard Franklin bridge towards Tampa is within the city limits of St. Petersburg. It is one of the three ABC Coalition Rays stadium proposed sites. With the positive response by the St. Petersburg Mayor in these videos by showing his earnest desire to meet with the Rays, and hopefully secure a bright and productive future with the Rays remaining still within his fair city limits.
Some people within the St. Petersburg community had thought that Mayor Foster was tiptoeing this issue recently, or trying to hide it until later in the Rays season. These videos clearly show that St. Petersburg is granting the Rays space so that they can accomplish their seasonal goals, then both the City of St. Petersburg and the Rays can get down to business of securing the future of this team for the entire Tampa Bay regional community. I love it when I back the right (political) horse.