St. Pete takes legal 'baby steps' in stadium discussions - FOX 13 News

St. Pete takes legal 'baby steps' in stadium discussions

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The St. Petersburg City Council took a small but important step toward making the plan for a ballpark to be in the Gateway area public record.

First things first: the city is clearing the legal air to insure talking about a new home for the Rays won't get any of the parties involved slapped with a lawsuit.

It all has people here in the Gateway talking.

"We've talked about it a lot actually, believe it or not," said Nathan Whitmer. At Beef O'Bradys, Whitmer hears a lot of speculation over what it would be like if the Rays moved out of the

Trop and in to a new stadium to be built on vacant land in the gateway.

"Most people around here they wouldn't like it, just because they live here, and traffic. But us as a business, personally, I would really love it," he said.

So would Monty Alton, who understands why the Rays are asking for a nicer, newer stadium.

"In any industry, you have to keep updating your facilities. You have to, or you're not going to get that crowd," he said.

When the team decided to move in to Tropicana Field years ago, it entered a usage agreement with the city of St Petersburg. If an outside party attempts to lure the team away—to Tampa, Hillsborough County or even another city in Pinellas—there could be grounds for a lawsuit for legal interference.

That's why city council voted to draft a resolution legally protecting St. Petersburg and Echelon. The private company has drafted plans to build a stadium in the Gateway area, and it wants to share its research with city council.

Thursday's motion is a baby step toward getting the plan in front of council without legal risk on either side.

"We're not going to negotiate against ourselves, and we're not going to get in a situation where our taxpayers are at risk," said Mayor Bill Foster.

In the meantime, bar room speculation across Tampa Bay goes on.

"You wanna keep them in Pinellas County then, instead of sending them over to Tampa, or somewhere I think around here would be great," said Daryl Allen.

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