The St. Petersburg City Council, the elected board of eight officials who control the Rays' de facto lease for the use of Tropicana Field, have a new proposal up for consideration.
Last off-season the City Council scuttled a deal that would have allowed the Rays to look anywhere in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for a new stadium over a matter of a few thousand dollars, but it was clear the board was generally uncomfortable with the proposal, which had been negotiated by St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman.
This new proposal, which could be seen as a counter-proposal, appears to be more likely to pass a vote from the Council. It was formulated by Councilmember Charlie Gerdes, one of the three proponents of allowing the Rays to look anywhere in Tampa Bay for a new stadium, and likely increases the proposed payout to the city by 25% should the Rays vacate Tropicana Field.
Previously: City Council denies Rays stadium search
Under the current agreement in place, the Tampa Bay Rays are not legally permitted to consider any stadium locations outside the St. Petersburg city limits. The lease runs through 2027 and has been called iron clad by outside legal experts.
Gerdes's proposal -- which can be read in full here -- would require the Rays to pay a fee of $1.4M per year from the time they determine to build a new stadium outside the city limits, and increases that fee to $2.5M per year once the stadium has been vacated through the end of the lease.
Early number crunching by local News 10's Noah Pransky projects the increase in cost to be approximately $5M for the Rays, with an estimated payout to the city rising to ~$25.5M.
The Tampa Bay Times is reporting this new proposal likely has support from two previous "no" votes, which would give the Rays the 5-3 margin they would need. The upcoming City Council meeting on Oct. 22 is the last meeting planned before an election on Nov. 2, which could change the membership on the board.
It is not clear whether the Rays approve of the counter-proposal as it is written. After some councilmembers accosted the Rays to the media, the team made it clear they no long planned to attend City Council meetings.