St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster threw a curveball into the debate over the Tampa Bay Rays' stadium Thursday, suggesting he had a "detailed plan" to keep the team in St. Petersburg.
Foster mentioned the plan during a City Council meeting Thursday, during which council members asked for an update on the deadlock between the city and the baseball team over a new stadium.
When pressed by reporters during a break in the meeting, Foster declined to comment about any such plan and went into a private office.
If there is such a plan, Thursday was the first time Foster or anyone else had mentioned it. St. Petersburg City Clerk Eva Andujar said she knew nothing of it Thursday.
During a break late in Thursday's meeting, Foster clarified that his plan to keep the Rays may not entail any new stadium. He declined to give specifics, but said he has not spoken to the Rays about it and said much of his plan regards what to do in case the team intends to leave St. Petersburg.
The issue arose when Councilwoman Lesie Curran asked the mayor if he knew of any plan to retain the Rays. Foster at that point mentioned the "detailed plan", to which Curran expressed confusion and asked him what he was talking about.
Foster responded that he and Curran had talked about the plan previously, then shortly after, the mayor left the council's chambers.
Council Chairman Jim Kennedy said he "had an idea" about Foster's plan, but directed a reporter's questions to the mayor. Two other council members, Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse, said they knew nothing of it.
Much of the discussion Thursday focused on whether the city should reach out to the Rays for a discussion or to wait for the team to make the first move.
Curran lobbied for the city to reach out to the team, and she made a motion to hold a special workshop on the city's stadium use agreement with the Rays.
Foster suggested it is the team's responsibility to ask for any changes to its stadium agreement, and he said he would begin a policy of not commenting publicly about stadium negotiations.
Ultimately, other council members approved holding such a workshop, although members Kennedy and Bill Dudley voted against it.