Councilman: Rays can shop around – for a price - FOX 13 News

Councilman: Rays can shop around – for a price

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

At least one St. Petersburg city council member says the Tampa Bay Rays should be able to look in Hillsborough County for a new stadium location, but first they would have to pay.

The council is expected to discuss a new proposal Thursday, and councilman Charlie Gerdes is proposing the contract that has the Rays tied down be amended, allowing the team to negotiate with developers and other local governments.

But he's also proposing the Rays pay the city an "exploration fee" of $1.4 million. This would let the Rays look around freely, but it would give the city something in return.

This, of course, has been an ongoing battle. In fact, just last week in a meeting with Pinellas County commissioners Rays ownership made its best case for a new place to play ball.

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

The proposal would not release the Rays from their commitment to Tropicana Field, which runs through 2027.

They would still have to negotiate with the city to break their lease. The proposal would simply let them look around.

Rays owners have warned all Bay area counties that Major League Baseball has lost faith in the Tampa Bay market, and something needs to be done.

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