Tuesday March 31st, 2015

After months of negotiating with the city council on a deal to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to search for alternative stadium sites, St. Petersburg, Fla., mayor Rick Kriseman decided to abandon the proposal Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"We are at a standstill," Kriseman said, according to the Times.

On Dec. 8, the team and Kriseman reached an agreement that allowed the Rays to explore stadium sites outside St. Petersburg, including downtown Tampa. The city council rejected the agreement with a 5-3 vote on Dec. 18.

Under that agreement, the Rays would have paid the city of St. Petersburg between $2 million and $4 million annually if they left for a stadium in a different city before their lease at Tropicana Field expires in 2027. 

Kriseman sent the council a revised proposal Friday that would grant the city 100% of the proceeds of redeveloping the 85 acres currently occupied by Tropicana Field, according to the Tampa Tribune.

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"We either don't do redevelopment until the Rays leave in 2027 or we have to turn over half the proceeds," Kriseman said, according to the Times.

The issue is unlikely to be brought up again until after the baseball season is over because the city does not want to distract from the Rays' on-field performance, according to the Tribune.

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in December that he would sell the team if a new stadium is not built and that a new owner could move the team elsewhere. He said in February that he will begin the search for a new stadium by 2022, whether or not he has the city's approval.

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Tropicana Field was opened in 1990 and has been the Rays' home field since they were formed in 1998. It is the only stadium in the league with a non-retractable roof and one of two stadiums with an artificial surface. 

The Rays have had the lowest average attendance in the majors in each of the past three seasons. 

Montreal, which has not have a major league team since the Expos left in 2004, has often been cited as a potential new home for the Rays should the franchise move. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told The Canadian Press on Monday that the city would need a new venue to replace the 40-year-old Olympic Stadium if it wants a team.

- Dan Gartland

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