Rays face deadlines for new stadium deal

The Hillsborough County Administrator outlined a funding plan for a potential Rays Stadium in Ybor City Wednesday, but the clock is ticking on the team's response.

"This is the best we can do and we don't have a plan B," said Administrator Mike Merrill.

He outlined the pitch he and the city have come up with, which would require the Rays to pay for half of the $900 million stadium along with maintenance and overages. 

The other half would come from private investments in Ybor Opportunity Zones, Ybor landowners and CRA taxes.

"The Rays have a couple, three weeks to tell us," said Merrill. "Time is ticking."

That's because the Rays have promised St. Pete to give them an answer by December 31. 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says there's no way a deal can be done by then. 

Further, the county administrator said the Rays likely have to agree by the time Buckhorn leaves office May 1 because he's the one who knows the ins-and-outs of the deal. 

"This is a pretty complicated thing," said Buckhorn. "Then you have another year of working out the final documents. Those documents will be this thick."

So now, the Rays have to ask St. Pete for an extension. 

Only Mayor Kriseman can recommend that to the council, but he could also require the Rays to pay the city more money for an extension. 

Kriseman said both Hillsborough and Tampa have had many years to prepare for this, so it's unfortunate to see so much ninth-inning scrambling.

"We are going to give it our best effort to try and get it done," said Buckhorn. "If not, we are all grownups, we need to be able to walk away if it is a bad deal for the public."

There are St. Pete City Council meetings scheduled for the next two Thursdays, but it is unclear how soon Mayor Rick Kriseman could ask the city council chair to place it on the agenda.