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Do what is best for us...say voters

The letters below concerning the proposed Rays/Hines deal are a few among many that we've received. If you care about the vote, we encourage you to write your own, before the upcoming vote.


Dear City Council:

Margaret and I have reservations concerning the Rays/Hines Deal as it is currently presented.

We believe too much has been given to the Rays by the City in the form of an extraordinary infrastructure bonus. The Rays should not be gifted with so many of our tax dollars when so many St. Pete. community needs remain unaddressed.

In addition, more “golden handcuffs” should be in the deal to prevent the city from losing future dollars when the current owners decide to sell. We suggest a “claw back” provision so that when the Rays team and stadium ownership changes, the appreciated value of the City’s investment in the new Stadium’s infrastructure is recaptured either in the form of dollars or in the form of a percent ownership in the stadium itself. As well, the timeline for Hines development of the non-stadium acreage is too loose and long. Hines should be accountable for 1- or 2-year progress benchmarks and a 10-year build-out maximum for the remaining non-stadium acreage with at least 20% of this land devoted to parks and green space. The developer should bear appropriate infrastructure costs and face non-performance penalties.

The eventual agreed upon Rays/Hines deal should impact the taxpayer at a cost of no more than a $1-2k per couple or family and not at the absurd cost of $6k per person, $12K per couple, or $24k per family.

When we consider how scarce commercial property is in this town and how much our homes and downtown property have appreciated, we encourage you to walk away from this proposal without major adjustments in favor of our city.

You as our Councilmen know the outstanding needs of our current infrastructure and how vulnerable our city is to wind and water damage. Please remember to strengthen our infrastructure before incentivizing the Rays to remain in St. Pete. All your constituents are reminded daily of misplaced city priorities when they look at dirt alleys behind expensive homes, can’t get home after a huge rain, sit in their cars on congested roads, or fall on an unrepaired sidewalk. These are a constant reminder of municipal indifference to taxpayers needs when so much time is focused on getting a deal done without knowing how invaluable we feel the Rays are to our lifestyle.

Come talk to your neighbors in your districts and around the city before you decide. You will find there are few of us raving about the Rays new stadium in this current Rays/Hines proposal. Personally, we believe the stadium and the Rays need to be located in east Hillsborough County near I-75 and I-4. Our city needs spring training baseball to return to an updated Al Lang Field stadium. Tourists and all who reside in our city and love our water-focused peninsula deserve to have the best parks, transportation options, infrastructure, housing options, activity centers, and health care for all ages.

The Rays never really belonged in downtown. St. Pete. We have grown and become a vital, desirable community despite them being here. The huge majority of our community have tolerated the congestion and distraction of professional baseball. Also keep in mind, the city never made any deals with developers to “improve” our water front’s open parkland. The history behind this reluctance should be part of your thinking to develop now this unique downtown acreage by an outside entity.

We support more study and way more benefits in this proposal for our city and its taxpayers. Likewise, it should not be done to fulfill any office holders’ campaign promises. It's unfortunate that no one has published the cost of losing the Rays, new stadium or not. How many Rays dollars really circulate around St. Pete and make a difference? We know how much our cultural and tourist dollars circulate and bring tremendous economic benefit to our community. I am sure we all know why there are so many out-of-town fans in our stadium. Yes, they love to see their team play in a great vacation venue. Could it be also they would be here primarily to enjoy our beaches and waterfront and find a Rays game an opportunity to get out of the sun’s “rays”. Rays baseball or not, a majority of tourists would come for reasons other than just baseball.

The bottom line is, as locals, we have too many great distractions to savor. A ten pack of Rays tickets is about anyone's limit when we in St. Pete. can enjoy the games on tv for a lot fewer dollars and escape the effort of getting to and from an old or new stadium.

We do not envy your position in having to vote for this deal when it is so complex and beyond all of our expertise. Hopefully you have some expert independent counsel and will heed what is being said and written and advised and look beyond what is pictured and promised.

Please reconsider your vote for this deal as it is written and the costs that are unfairly shifted to us citizens, especially those of us who have helped bring this city to where it is despite Rays/Hines. We know you will do what is best for us long term residents and our great City.


Dear City Council:

I am very concerned about the proposed Rays/Hines deal that the City Council will soon be voting on. One of my concerns is that the vote seems to be rushed, which isn't allowing City Council members to have the time, the information, and the outside expertise they need before voting on such an important and expensive project.


Another concern I have is that the deal seems to be much more favorable to Rays/Hines that it is to the city.  The potential benefits that the city will receive don't seem to justify the amount of money that the city will have to contribute to the deal.


I don't know why Mayor Welch seems to have made the Rays /Hines deal his number one priority when there are so many other city projects that should take priority over building a new baseball stadium for a team that, year after year, has very low attendance.


None of my friends or neighbors ever even go to Rays games.  What we all love about St. Pete are the parks, the restaurants, the museums, the quality of life, and the vibe of the city, not Rays baseball.


Obviously, the Gas Plant land is prime property, and it can be redeveloped with or without the Rays. As a matter of fact, I think redeveloping that land without a new baseball stadium makes more sense than redeveloping it with a new baseball stadium.


But if a new baseball stadium is inevitable, please vote NO on the current proposal and let the mayor know that he and his staff must negotiate a new deal that provides much more benefit to the City of St. Pete and isn't just a sweetheart deal for Rays/Hines.


Dear City Council,

Please reconsider the proposed deal. 


A reasonable concern is the use of significant COUNTY bed tax funds toward the project.  Visitors do not come to St. Petersburg to watch the Rays (just look at their low attendance record); they come her for many other reasons.  The return on investment of funds to benefit one organization cheats the  many small businesses who benefit from broad advertising of St. Pete/Clearwater/Tampa.


A second concern is that of the value of the Rays franchise.  According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Sternberg's partnership paid $135 million for the Rays.  According to Forbes, the team is now worth $1.5 billion.  Teams playing in newer stadiums have a larger market value; Rays' ownership wants more.  In a word, this lofty valuation should indicate "Dayenu."


Please responsibly represent the interests of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County residents and renegotiate the deal.  The "numbers" as presented work against the short- and long-term interests of taxpayers.


To Our Readers

If you are as concerned as we are that Mayor Welch is pushing the City Council Members to vote on July 18, without a current appraisal of the property, and without taking into account what voters feel are the city's top priorities, you can help.

You can easily contact St. Petersburg City Council to Slow Down the Process.


What You Can Do

We need a fair deal for St. Petersburg. If you agree, let your concerns be known to the pivotal St. Petersburg City Council members whose votes will likely decide our fate. Contact them HERE and we'll be sure that they hear from you ...


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