Saturday, February 20, 2010

How the people of St. Pete really feel about the Rays via Facebook

This morning, while doing my normal Facebook stuff (you know deleting people's mafia wars and the like), I came across an interesting thread on the Downtown St. Pete Facebook fan page.  The guy that runs it linked Topkin's article this morning about the stadium and what Stu Sternberg had to say about it. He basically says the Rays need a new stadium, but they're staying out of all the stadium talks that are getting bantered about on the other side of the Bay.

Interestingly enough, the comments section blew up below the posting.  The opinions varied from "I hope the city sues" to "people in St. Pete will realize we have to build a new stadium or we will lose the Rays." There were also arguments about outdoor vs indoor and retractable roof, references to the contract, call to run them out of town. attendance concerns, etc.

I believe the "I love the burg" members are a good microcosm of St. Petersburg's feelings on the new stadium in general.

Here is some of what was said:

The Trop is fine. Leave it alone.

The city has bowed enough to these GREEDY CLOWNS. The Trop is a PALACE compared to many MLB stadiums. SUE!!

its about BUSINESS...where can they make the most money, where can they pack the stands, baseball teams have been known to LEAVE a metro, so i say wherever they land from a business perspective is fine with me, as long as they STAY in the Tampa Bay market. And not everything has gone to from St. Pete to Tampa, St. Pete did nail the home of the Florida Orchestra.

Are you people serious? What exactly have the Rays done for us? Bring in money to local business? I don't think so... For all ya'll who weren't living here back in the early 90's, the majority of St. Pete residents didn't want the "Thunder Dome" (as it was known then) to be built!!! We protested outside of city hall, and went to city councilmeetings, as usual, they didn't listen to us.

That's where the problem lies for St. Petersburg and the Rays: the town isn't united one way or another. And that's causing the city's leadership to freeze up at the most inopportune time. In fact, it seems as though Mayor Bill Foster is busy putting his fingers in his ears and saying, "You will stay. You signed a contract." He's not sure what side of the fence to go on, so he's just frozen in the middle.

But, that's not going to work. A snowball is rolling and where it's going to land we don't know. What we do know is that Rays ownership under Stu Sternberg is willing to take chances and think outside the box when it comes to just about anything. That includes stadiums. Precedent means nothing for these guys, so we really don't have a blueprint to go on.

As for St. Petersburg, it seems like the town almost suffers from a "little brother" complex. I grew up in St. Pete, but now live in Brandon. I know how suspiciously people from the "other side of the Bay" are viewed.  It's like the city likes having the Rays to show off, but they don't want to be bothered doing anything to make them happy.

If St. Petersburg really wants to be home of the Rays, they'd better get their heads out of the sand and do something or they're going to get rolled. Sternberg has said repeatedly (including yesterday) that they're not planning on playing that lease out. He says he has baseball behind him and Hillsborough seems to be gathering troops. This is a war St. Pete can't win.

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