Chip Osowski | WFLA Channel 8 News | http://bit.ly/29Ha4vH
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and other city leaders are convinced they can keep the Tampa Bay Rays in town.
A few months ago, they gave the team their blessing to explore other venues. Since then, team management met with Tampa city leaders to discuss their options. Saturday evening, Kriseman and Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chirs Steinocher kicked off the Baseball Forever Campaign, a campaign aimed at ensuring St. Petersburg is the forever home of the Rays.
"Friends, today is the beginning of the campaign to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg," Mayor Kriseman told the crowd at Ferg's Sports Bar, which is right across from Tropicana Field.
The mayor explained after the announcement, the city is hoping to convince the Rays that St. Petersburg is the best location for the franchise. "We're taking the approach we are because things have changed. We still believe, we firmly believe, this area is the best location. We know that if we didn’t give them a chance to look around and come to that decision they were gone," he said.
Kriseman said the team has a tremendous impact on the downtown area, its economy and the city as a whole. You don't need to explain that to Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg's.
"This is huge for everybody. We employ over a hundred and twenty people during the season and only about seventy in the off season. So it's huge for the community, it's huge for everybody. They employ more people in Pinellas County...The Rays," said Ferguson.
When asked what would happen if the team moved, Ferguson said he is confident that won't happen.
"It would have a big impact, but we're going to get them to stay. We're going to make the best pitch we can and I believe they'll stay right here."