With concerns over the future of the Tampa Bay Rays reaching a new level, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan thinks it's time to convene a regional discussion about the baseball team. Hagan said Wednesday that he will contact government leaders on both sides of the bay in the next two weeks to invite them to an open session about how best to keep the Rays in the region. Potential participants would include representatives of the Hillsborough and Pinellas County commissions, and the mayors and city councils of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Others could include representatives of business organizations such as local chambers of commerce and the Tampa Bay Partnership. St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Karl Nurse and Ken Welch, chairman of the Pinellas County Commission, both said they would be interested in taking part. However, Welch said the meeting may be premature while St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster remains at odds with the team over its contract to play at Tropicana Field. Also expressing an interest in a meeting was Bob Rohrlack, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The impetus for the meeting, Hagan said, are statements the team's principal owner, Stuart Sternberg, made to the Hillsborough and Pinellas commissions in the past week. Sternberg said the Rays want to stay in the area but Major League Baseball might force a sale or move because of low attendance. "I sense we currently have momentum on our side, plus the reality of what Mr. Sternberg stated, that at some point in time this is going to be out of his hands," Hagan said. "Major League Baseball is going to intervene and solve it their way. I would think if nothing else that would tell us we do need to begin making progress immediately."
Hillsborough commissioner urges regional discussion on Rays
Tampa Tribune | Jan 31