Despite pressure, Foster won’t budge on Rays issue - FOX 13 News

Despite pressure, Foster won’t budge on Rays issue

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Despite the handshake, no one's budging.

Not Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, or the city of St. Petersburg's mayor.

"It's embarrassing that you are being treated this way in this community," said Susan Latvala, a Pinellas County Commissioner.

Commissioners did their best to end the standoff. In front of a packed crowd, the Rays made their best case for a new place to play ball.

"Location is very important. When they say build it where they want it, I think it's important to know that we get things pitch perfect and have it in the right spot," said Rays owner Stuart Sternberg.

Sternberg said attendance is a big issue, telling commissioners the team's in desperate need of more season ticket holders.

He wants all options on the table – including stadium sites in Hillsborough County – and that doesn't sit too well with Mayor Bill Foster.

"It is a regional team. A regional asset, but the only people paying from the region live on this side of the Bay. I'm not going to neglect my duty to them," he said.

The Rays still owe the city another 15 seasons, and so far, the mayor is holding them to it – even threatening to sue any city that tries to lure them away.

"The only reason, the only reason Mr. Sternberg is one of an elite 30 is on the backs of the people of St. Pete and Pinellas County," Foster said.

But commissioners seemed to side with the Rays. Unfortunately for the team, they don't get the final say.

"I think you need to do a region-wide search. I don't see any other way forward," Pinellas Commission Chairman Ken Welch said. "Otherwise, we're going to be stuck right here."

The commission did try to broker a sit down between the Mayor and the Rays owner.

Foster said he's cleared his calendar for Thursday morning for what he called a "heart to heart."

Sternberg said he'll meet with Foster but wouldn't say when.

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