Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn touches on Rays situation
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the New York Yankees’ 9-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday at Tropicana Field. Afterward, he addressed some lingering questions about the Rays’ stadium issue.
Currently, there are more unknowns than answers. In late January, Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg met with commissioners from both Hillsborough County and Pinellas County. He has also held talks with St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster, who has said he wants the Rays to honor a contract that keeps them at Tropicana Field until 2027.
Here are some highlights from Buckhorn’s responses.
On the stadium issue: “We’re in a holding pattern. We’re just waiting to see. We’re doing all our due diligence to make sure if and when the time comes that we’ll be ready. But we’re not involved in those negotiations at all.”
On talks between the Rays and city of St. Petersburg: “I get a sense that perhaps over the summer there may be some movement. I don’t know what it will be. I think everyone recognizes that the status quo is not an answer. We can’t continue to do what we’ve been doing because the results will be just what they’ve been. This is not sustainable.”
On if there’s more urgency in recent discussions: “I think so. I think on both sides. I’m thankful for it. … At least people talked (earlier in the winter). That’s good.”
On the importance of a dialogue: “Extremely important, because the silence doesn’t move the ball. Clearly, there are issues that have to be resolved. On the Tampa side, we’re not a partner to those discussions. They have to be resolved between the Rays and the city of St. Pete. If and when that occurs, we’ll be ready. But until that occurs, I’ve got to be careful about getting in the middle of it.”
On future goals: “For us, the ultimate goal … is that we don’t lose the Rays. As a region, we want to keep them. We love the Rays. … They’re ours. They’re not going anywhere, if I have anything to do about it. … I just get the sense that the stalemate has gone on long enough. I’m hopeful that cool heads will start those talks. I don’t know what those talks will be.”
On his role in the issue: “It’s not without its challenges, but I also recognize that there’s an existing contract, and I’ve got to be respectful of that. And I’ve got to be respectful of the investment the citizens of St. Pete have made in this facility.”
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