Tampa, Hillsborough County leaders talk about Rays - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa, Hillsborough County leaders talk about Rays

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Mayor Buckhorn, left, and Commissioner Hagan Mayor Buckhorn, left, and Commissioner Hagan

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chair Ken Hagan say they're ready to speak with the Tampa Bay Rays.

For years, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has said the Rays must stay in St. Pete. Now it seems, he's changing his tune.

"They insist on looking at the region. I don't begrudge them for that," Foster said in an earlier interview.

Mayor Buckhorn and Commissioner Hagan met Friday to discuss their next step.

"I think we just start preparing and hopeful that Mayor Foster and the St. Pete City Council do what they indicated that they will do which is to sign that agreement," Buckhorn said.

The mayor says he can only imagine what a major league team would mean to downtown Tampa.

"Eighty games a year. 15-30,000 fans a night. Walking on the river walk that will be completed by Thanksgiving of next year. Going to the bars and the restaurants. Coming to the game by boat. It would literally transform this place in ways we can't even imagine."

Commissioner Hagan says it's far too early to discuss if, where or when the Rays will move. He says one thing is certain: taxpayers will not foot the bill for any new stadium in Hillsborough County.

"This process will be driven financially by the organization and the private sector," Hagan said. "The days, again I've said this a million times, there will never be another Raymond James sweetheart deal. Those times have long past. "

Hagan says he plans to meet with the county attorney next week to discuss moving forward with talks with the team.

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