Mitch Perry Report for 12.19.14

What’s next?

Yesterday’s not really so stunning rebuke of Mayor Rick Kriseman by the St. Pete City Council has us back where we’ve been for the past six years regarding the Tampa Bay Rays stadium issue – which is a slow countdown to the Rays ultimately packing their bags and leave the area. For years now the Rays management has become convinced that they can’t thrive in downtown St.Pete and thus want to talk to Tampa officials about a possible new stadium, and the city of St. Pete says: not under your terms.

The supporters of the proposal spoke about how it was important to support the Memo of Understanding crafted by the mayor and the team, saying not to means there’s a better chance of the Rays leaving the the Tampa Bay area. It’s a sensible point of view. But it’s not what’s leading the day right now.

I do find today’s Tampa Bay Times editorial to be discordant with what the stronger sentiment in St. Petersburg is, as articulated by Ed Montanari and Kathleen Ford yesterday, which is this: We don’t want to give up this team. If that means they leave the area and there’s no longer Major League Baseball here, then so be it. At least we don’t get ripped off.

Although Bob Buckhorn and Mark Sharpe and others love to talk about how everyone know gets along in the region and we’re all working together, this is simply not the case when it comes to the Rays.

There are a lot of folks who think the deal that the mayor crafted was “chump change,” to use a term used by Ferg’s sports bar owner Mark Ferguson. That could be completely wrong. But it made it a harder sell.

Will Rays management comes back and be willing to renegotiate the provision that allows them to earn 50 percent of future development rights to the stadium before they actually leave Tropicana Field? It appears that they’re going to have to, or just be stuck with no future prospects for getting out of the stadium, which they so desperately want to do.

This relationship looks like it’s going to get worse between the two parties, and look – when somebody wants to leave in a relationship, there’s only so much that could be done to put a happy face on it. While folks in Tampa and baseball fans around the area want the Rays here, St. Pete seems to be saying, you’ll play here, or go ahead and leave for Montreal…

Meanwhile, President Obama is scheduled today to actually point the finger at the North Korean govt. regarding the hack attack on Sony Pictures, which has led to the cancellation of the Christmas Day release of the Seth Rogan comedy, “The Interview.” I’ve seen some folks – like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough -say that our country should act more mature, and the fact that when the British film, “Death of a President” (which was about assassinating George W. Bush) was released last decade, people didn’t go crazy.

What? Conservatives were outraged at the time. Here’s a brief post from an ABC News story published at the time:

When word of the provocative plot hit the blogosphere Thursday, it sparked outrage, particularly among conservatives.

“Sicko” is how radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh described director Gabriel Range.

Congressman Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the movie “absolutely disgraceful.”

Neither man has seen the flick, but both fear life could imitate art.

But it’s true, nobody was suggesting that cinemas shouldn’t show the film (it played briefly at the Tampa Theater).

Also this week, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Will Hobson’s announced departure is just the latest major loss for the Times, as he’ll be taking his talents to the pages of the Washington Post. I bumped into another former Times staffer who was affected by the financial issues with the paper the other day at the Jeff Vinik event – former retail reporter Susan Thurston, who I was happy to learn is now working for the major PR film for Hill+ Knowlton. Like myself, Susan came to the Tampa Bay area from California over a decade ago, though she came from SoCal, while I’m a San Francisco native.

Speaking of which, this will be my last “Mitch Perry Report” of 2014, as I’m heading back to the SF Bay Area later today for Christmas. Over the past five years on this last Friday before Xmas at my last employer, I would write my Top Ten list for best movies, books and music experiences of the year. We’ll be posting that sometime over the next week or so, along with a couple of other stories loaded for your holiday consumption. Otherwise, I’ll be back posting on this site in 2015.

Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas everyone!

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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