Fresh Stadium Tea Leaves

March 9th, 2016


If you’re searching for tea leaves to read in the Rays’ Great Stadium Search, a few were presented recently.

Both the Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Tribune in recent days spilled ink on large profiles about Melanie Lenz, the Rays senior vice president for strategy and development. The pieces include interesting details about the woman who will help steer the franchise through hot (and potentially choppy) political waters.

How might the Rays’ new digs look? Here’s Lenz’s vision, as described in the Times’ story:

“It’s that postcard shot,” Lenz, 42, says. “Something that you stop and buy at the airport to take back home.”

Pressed for details, Lenz, the Rays senior vice president for strategy and development, mentions infusing Tampa Bay’s water and abundant sunshine into the bones of a new stadium, but she’s mum on specifics: capacity, upper decks or retractable roofs.

That’s because Lenz is now at the center of Tampa Bay’s preeminent political drama: It’s St. Petersburg versus Tampa. Kriseman versus Buckhorn. And, for all the talk about regionalism, neither city wants to lose the chance to refer to itself as major league.

So words matter. As does the ability to build trust without showing your hand.

Joe’s not expecting an easy solution to the Tampa-St. Pete staredown. Both sides of the Bay offer something, but Joe admits intrigue at the possibility of Tampa having a shot to put fannies in the stands.

(Sorry, St. Pete, Joe has seen Grapefruit League games this spring draw more than midweek gatherings at the Trop.)

Even if political theater seems as exciting as watching Rene Rivera whiff at the plate, it will be worth following how both cities try to woo the Rays.

Bring on the courting … and the drama.


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