In a joint sit-down interview together Tuesday morning, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster vowed to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in the area at any cost and any location.
Speaking to FOX 13's Russell Rhodes on Good Day Tampa Bay, Foster, however, said he's still confident in finding a solution to keep the Rays in Pinellas County until 2027, though he admitted that Tropicana Field is not a long-term option.
"In 2028, no," when asked if he thought Tropicana Field was working. "In 2028, I don't think the Rays will be in the city of St. Petersburg or Pinellas County, but I'm worried about where they're going to be for the next 15 years."
Foster also said he has no concern that Major League Baseball will pull the Rays from our area if they don't leave St. Petersburg.
"I don't worry about interference from Major League Baseball," Foster said. "You don't see teams moving around. They have this anti-trust exemption that is sacred to them."
Meanwhile, Buckhorn said Tampa is ready and willing to take the Rays should anything happen between the team and St. Petersburg. However, he said that depends on things he can't control.
"We've said from day one that this is a regional asset," Buckhorn said. "We've said that the Rays are an economic engine. We want to keep the Rays. We don't want to lose the Rays to another city. If that relationship fails, I think as regional leaders we have an obligation to do our best to keep them here.
"I've also said," Buckhorn continued, "that if the Rays were to leave St. Pete, that downtown Tampa is the best location for the stadium."
Though the two mayors have differed on some things, they
agreed wholeheartedly that the Rays must stay here.
"This is a distraction, but it's one that is of great importance because the Rays are important economic partners in the city," Foster said. "They provide more than $100 million in direct spending each year."
Foster said he's going to meet with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg on Friday.
Click on the video to see our entire discussion with them about the Rays stadium issue.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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