ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman affirmed his commitment to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in the Sunshine City by officially launching the “Baseball Forever” campaign Saturday.
Following the team’s annual Fan Fest at Tropicana Field, Kriseman and Chris Steinocher, president of St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, pumped up fans across the street at Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill and gave out T-shirts bearing the “Baseball Forever” slogan.
No matter where the Rays play, Kriseman said, St. Petersburg always will be a winner. “But we also know this is the best place for that team to play.”
Kriseman announced the campaign to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg at his State of the City address last month. The effort is expected to feature local fans, business owners and politicians telling team leaders why they should remain in St. Petersburg.
The announcement came after City Council, with Kriseman’s urging, voted to allow the Rays to look at potential stadium sites elsewhere — including in Hillsborough County. A prior agreement with St. Petersburg prohibited the team from looking outside the city until 2027, a restriction Kriseman said could discourage the team from remaining in St. Petersburg long-term.
The city plans to put together a presentation that will convince the Rays to stay in St. Petersburg, but has no timetable for completing the proposal.
Kriseman and Steinocher told people to visit the “Baseball Forever” website and join the mailing list to learn how to get involved in order to prove St. Petersburg is a major league city.
“We’re going to put together the best proposal we can. We know what the Rays are looking for; we all believe we can provide that,” Steinocher said. “Now is the time to step up. Everybody’s on the team starting today.”