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Talks between St. Pete officials and the Tampa Bay Rays revolve around enhancing the city’s visibility



Talks between St. Pete officials and the Tampa Bay Rays revolve around enhancing the city's visibility

Despite the firm rejection of the proposal to rename the Tampa Bay Rays to the St. Petersburg Rays, the city is persistently exploring avenues to enhance St. Pete’s image in collaboration with the team.

An update was presented to the city council regarding potential strategies under consideration during negotiations with the Rays to boost the city’s visibility and recognition. The concepts emerging from these discussions may play a role in the agreement for the development of a new stadium.

The elements currently under consideration encompass signage, branding, uniforms, and promotional initiatives. As outlined in city documents, the ongoing discussions involve the following:

  • Signage – The city will hold the privilege to showcase promotional and public safety announcements on stadium facility signage, including the new marquee.
  • Branding – A collaborative effort between the city and the Rays will determine a marketing, promotion, and branding plan, specifying the location and frequency of signage.
  • Uniforms – The Rays will coordinate with Major League Baseball to permit the use of “St. Petersburg” team uniforms for at least one home game annually. Following a request from the administration, the Rays’ leadership has expressed their willingness to explore additional opportunities to feature these uniforms, pending MLB approval.
  • Promotions – A comprehensive hospitality and marketing plan will be established through an agreement with the Rays. In partnership with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, a co-branding agreement will be crafted to jointly promote the team, the stadium, and the destination. The new use agreement will incorporate additional elements aimed at bolstering visitation to the destination, including a physical presence of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater at the stadium. Furthermore, the Rays will collaborate with broadcasters and media to highlight the stadium’s location.

The potential collaboration with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC) is a recent addition to the ongoing negotiations. Further details about the nature of this collaboration will be presented to the council in the “coming weeks and months,” as indicated by city staff.

Assurances were given to the council that the Rays are actively engaging with broadcasters and media outlets to emphasize the team’s association with St. Petersburg when relevant. Any consideration of incorporating “St. Pete” into the actual stadium name will be addressed during the naming rights process.

Councilmember Ed Montanari expressed optimism about the situation, deeming it a “win-win” for both the city and the Rays. He highlighted the value of incorporating the city’s name in some manner with the team. Montanari appreciated the examples of signage within the stadium but anticipated the unveiling of more details. He also endorsed the concept of St. Petersburg Rays uniforms, believing they would be popular among fans for purchase and wear.

“I appreciate what you have shared with us, but I’m looking for a lot more,” Montanari said. “This is our opportunity to keep the Rays here in St. Petersburg, redevelop the Gas Plant District, create a lot of jobs and economic opportunities — not just for the city of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the whole Tampa Bay region — but also market St. Petersburg in a stronger fashion.”

City Administrator Rob Gerdes emphasized to the council that the city is actively engaged in negotiating several agreements with the Rays. Gerdes outlined that the primary focus is on the development funding agreement. Subsequently, attention will shift to the use agreement, where many specifics, such as signage and marketing details, will come to the forefront, according to Gerdes.

“These conversations are helping us because we’re working through those documents now, and we’re hearing from city council and hopefully there’s some things that we can add into that,” Gerdes said.


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