Commission considers risky talk with Rays - FOX 13 News

Commission considers risky talk with Rays

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Rays fans say they love the team, and they love the game—but it's the drive that kills them.

"It's a beautiful stadium. I love going to it. You can party outside. It's already built for a good time. Unfortunately, it's just such a drive for everyone who lives in Tampa and maybe even the outer areas," said Rays fan David Mohr.

"Going to the Trop, there's only one way in and one way out, and the traffic is miserable. I think they would do better if they moved over here. I really do," said fan Dianne Konen.

So does Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

"To assume they're going to stay there until the end of their lease and just put our heads in the sand and act like it'll mysteriously work out is extremely short-sighted," Hagan said.

Hagan wants to talk to the Rays, and now, the county's attorney says he and the rest of the commission can talk—but only under certain conditions.

In a memo, he says the team is bound by its contract with the City of St. Petersburg to play at Tropicana Field through 2027.

But he says Hillsborough isn't on the lease and isn't bound by any of its terms.

"By no means are they prevented or are we prevented from sitting down and having discussions on their long-term plans and goals and where they'd like to be," Hagan said.

St. Pete city officials have hinted they're willing to sue, and they could for "intentional interference," but only if it goes beyond talking.

Hagan says it's a risk worth taking.

"When you have a $200 to $300 million a year economic engine, it's imperative that they remain in Tampa Bay in our region. Selfishly of course, I'd like them to be in Tampa," Hagan said.

And so would some of the team's die hard fans. 

"It would be better if they came over here. I think they'd make a lot more money. I'd go three times more," Mohr said.

Thursday, Commissioner Hagan ask the commission to test the waters. He wants to invite the rays over to talk during a commission meeting, possibly in October.

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