One of the biggest proponents of the Rays' stadium search has been St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. He was elected on a platform that included allowing the Rays to search for a new site with equal opportunity (read: outside the city limits). He then followed through by personally negotiating a "lease" buy out agreement, and led the proposal before the St. Pete City Council.
The City Council did not pass the would-be amendment to the Rays' lease, or as it's properly called, the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Rays' Use Agreement.
The Council argued that the Rays unwillingness to hold negotiations with the Council was unfair, citing a possible profit share the Rays would receive if the city tried to redevelop any part of Tropicana Field's 80 acres while the team still occupied the stadium.
At face value, it seemed to be a small detail in the grand scheme of a multi-million dollar pay out to the city, maybe a few thousand dollars here or there, but the Rays were adamant that negotiations had been complete and that the buy out was fair.
The Council disagreed and denied the MOU, then motioned for the Council to hold a workshop instead, one that explored options on the Rays' behalf. It would have been minor progress in the discussion, or if anything a step back, and accordingly Mayor Kriseman is stepping in.
The news came Friday afternoon, per the Tampa Bay Times, that Kriseman was putting a work stoppage on employees preparing for the workshop:
Kriseman, in a late-day memo, informed the council he would not authorize staff to devote any time to preparing for the Thursday workshop because he felt it is "premature" while he was still trying to negotiate a stadium-search plan that the council could accept. Staff would attend the meeting, however.
The meeting goes forward, but now in more of a forum format for members of the Council. Implicitly, the Mayor is keeping the Council from meddling in his affairs, which include being the liaison to the Rays.
Kevin King, Kriseman's chief of staff, confirmed that the mayor is concerned the workshop's dialogue could impede his ongoing negotiations with the team, saying the "situation . . . is fluid. Our legal is talking to their legal, our mayor is talking to their president and we are confident about getting something before Opening Day (April 6)."
The good news in all of this would be that negotiations are confirmed to be ongoing between Mayor Kriseman and Rays President Brian Auld. In the article, Kriseman's group confirms the forthcoming second proposal will include the redevelopment profits in some capacity.