Ed Montanari urges Mayor to continue negotiations with Rays; Rick Kriseman responds

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Kriseman has paused talks on a stadium deal at the site in response to an ongoing lawsuit against the baseball team's owner.

St. Petersburg City Council Chair Ed Montanari is urging Mayor Rick Kriseman to continue stadium negotiations with the Tampa Bay Rays to keep the major league baseball team in the city.

Montanari, joined by St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce President Christopher Steinocher as well as fellow City Council members Darden Rice and Gina Driscoll, held a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss his stance.

“The time is now to start negotiating with the Rays,” Montanari said Tuesday. “We need to figure out baseball here in St. Petersburg before development of the Trop site.” 

Montanari’s push to resume negotiations with the Rays comes after Kriseman paused talks on a stadium deal at the site in response to an ongoing lawsuit brought by several of the team’s minority owners against principal owner Stu Sternberg.

The suit calls for the removal of Sternberg, and if successful, would void potential deals involving the stadium, Kriseman said previously. Montanari, however, said negotiations should be able to continue unaffected by the suit and warned against moving forward with development before an agreement is reached.

“I don’t see it having any effect on negotiations, that’s a lawsuit from some minority partners, and it’s internal to the Rays,” Montanari said.

Kriseman has responded to Montanari’s comments, saying “we all want the Rays here,” but that “we cannot want that more than good sense allows.”

“Council member Ed Montanari, his allies on council, Mr. Steinocher and others are unfortunately elevating Stu Sternberg’s agenda at the expense of our residents, our progress on the Tropicana Field site and the City of St. Petersburg’s negotiation position,” Kriseman said in a statement. “Further negotiations with the Rays cannot continue until there is clarity related to the serious allegations against Mr. Sternberg and his role as principal owner.”

The baseball team has indicated a lack of interest in a stadium on the site, submitting a proposal declined by the city that would have given the Rays nearly 60% control over the site.

But, Montanari and others remain hopeful.

“I’m an eternal optimist, we can get this done,” Montanari said. “If they could do it back then, we could do it now, it’s easier now to keep a baseball team than it was 20 years ago to try to get a baseball team.”

Last Friday, the Mayor announced his selection for the final two development teams for the Tropicana site: Midtown Development and Sugar Hill Community Partners/JMA Ventures, which each have proposals for the site with and without a baseball stadium.

The ultimate development team the city selects will be tasked with redeveloping the historic 86-acre Trop site, which currently houses the stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

According to the city’s timeline, it will reach a development agreement with the final development team near September or October this year.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


One comment

  • John Schreiner

    June 1, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    Stop & Pause the 86-acre Tropicana Redevelopment Ver. 3
    3 Major Flaws
    Flaw #1: Nothing truly beneficial for the long-term interests of
    St Petersburg & Pinellas County residents and businesses are contained in any of the proposals.
    Many of the jobs are temporary construction jobs plus some theoretical jobs at sometime in the future.
    However, there will be increased demand for full-time jobs as uber drivers, fast food jobs, mini-mart & retail clerks, janitors & cleaning staff.

    Affordable Housing is barely mentioned & will become more problematic if we proceed with any of these proposals.
    There is no mention of the 30,000 family members throughout
    St Petersburg & Pinellas county that are on waiting lists for affordable housing.
    There is no mention of the 33,000 children living below the poverty line throughout Pinellas county & St Petersburg.
    10,000 of these children have single-parents who would benefit immensely from Affordable Housing & Daycare, raising many of these families out of poverty.
    A city planner in a video meet earlier this month said ‘the city values affordable housing and we’re discussing a reduction in the cost of the land to the developers.
    Why are we considering any subsidies to the developers?

    Flaw #2: Why are we selling our downtown 86 acre Crown Jewel to Private Interests?
    The City of St Petersburg is looking to sell-off our publicly owned 86-acre site w/stadium to a handful of private investors & entities.
    Do we really want to look like downtown Tampa in 12 years or so?
    If we each wanted that, wouldn’t we now be living in Tampa?
    Flaw #3: All the developers want the city to finance our future development, one way or another.
    The build-out value of our 86 acre Trop site could be $2.5 Billion. The current City of St Petersburg assets (non-pension) are $600 million so we could own assets of $3 Billion, 5 x our current assets, by continuing our ownership.
    If we’re financing our own development, why shouldn’t we continue to own, our own development?
    Three developers want $75,000,000 to $100,000,000 upfront and one developer wants $836,000,000 of public financing from the city, county or state, they don’t care where it comes from.
    Basically, they’re asking the City of St Petersburg to put our Treasury, assets, cashflow, deposits & tax-base at their DISPOSAL.
    The Rays have had a 30 year open-door policy to our Treasury & disposed of our resources with little to show for it.
    Does the 86 acres and surrounding area look like it’s benefited from our investments in the Rays?
    The most important 2 questions require transparency by the City of St Pete. We need to know these answers before WE CONSIDER continuing with the Rays & others down this path..
    How much did the City of St Petersburg invest over the last 30 years for the Rays & all other site-related investments relating to the Rays, Stadium and the 86 acre property?
    Where is the 30 year City of St Petersburg P & L Financial Statement for the Rays, stadium & 86 acres?
    I asked the Mayor but he could not or would not tell me.

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