Council back off 'pay to look' proposal for Rays - WFLA News Channel 8

Council back off 'pay to look' proposal for Rays

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A St. Petersburg Councilman's proposal to have the Tampa Bay Rays pay to look for a new stadium site didn't make it far Thursday.

Charlie Gerdes initially suggested the Rays pay $1.42 million annually to search for new sites. That amount would make up for the annual subsidy St. Petersburg taxpayers are footing for things like traffic around the stadium.

"My thinking is that if we keep holding this document up saying: ‘You can't leave … period … all we're doing is pushing them to leave," Gerdes said. "I think we need to accept the fact that whether you like the Rays position about: We'll only talk about Pinellas if we can talk about Hillsborough … whether you think it's fair … it is what it is."

He eventually backed off of the proposal for now after the City Attorney John Wolfe said the St. Petersburg is currently in its best negotiation position possible.

"I almost think you're almost in the position of negotiating against yourself at this time," Wolfe said.

The City Attorney's office will still spend two months researching the current contract with the goal of figuring out if city leaders decide to somehow let the Rays look for other possible sites, if it would legally make them easier to leave.

"Maybe after John Wolfe and his folks look at it and give the body a comfort that in fact the protections are there … maybe something else will happen," Gerdes said.

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