Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Crist Speaks About Rays Proposed Stadium
Posted Feb 27, 2008 by Lee Diekemper
Updated Feb 27, 2008 at 01:29 AM
Attending the 2008 Governor’s Baseball Dinner at Tropicana Field Tuesday, Florida governor and St. Petersburg resident Charlie Crist seemed quite the excited baseball fan over the prospect of the Rays obtaining a new downtown St. Petersburg waterfront stadium.
The proposed site of the stadium is the current location of Al Lang Field.
But Crist insisted just prior to the dinner he was not in favor of his hometown getting the stadium because he’s a fan. Rather, Crist was adamant a new stadium would be an economic lift.
The new stadium “means a lot. I want to do everything we can,” Crist said, “That is why I wanted to reinstitute the [Governor’s Baseball Dinner], to show how much Florida appreciates what baseball does for the whole Sunshine State. Anything we can do in order to support baseball – and all sports being in Florida – is important.
“Annually, sports means $32 billion a year for the Sunshine State. That’s a huge economic driver and makes an enormous impact in the production of jobs.
“[A new Rays stadium is] not just for owners and players but for an awful lot of people that work at the stadium that park the cars and provide the food. It’s very important for all of us and I want to do whatever I can to help.”
When asked about the trend in recent years of teams leaving Florida for new spring training facilities in Arizona (the Dodgers and Indians are leaving after this spring), Crist noted “we are not having this dinner by accident. I wanted to show how much we appreciate Major League Baseball and what they do in spring training and minor league baseball as well.
“It’s awfully important to Florida and Floridians that the Grapefruit League continues to be prosperous and successful. We want to continue all business in Florida and certainly baseball is among them.”
The proposed new Rays stadium was getting a lot of chatter at the dinner, including insight from comedian and actor Bill Murray who briefly spoke to the assembled.
“It’s nice to be here at Tropicana Field just before they tear it down to build something else,” Murray quipped.