Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan deserve credit for moving quickly to prepare for the possibility that the Tampa Bay Rays might relocate to Hillsborough.
But Buckhorn and Hagan should make sure that Pinellas is represented on whatever committee they form to pursue the matter.
The two leaders were noncommittal about having Pinellas representatives on such a panel when they discussed it with the media last week.
Buckhorn is correct that Hillsborough leaders know best what potential baseball sites Tampa has to offer.
But it would be foolish to ignore the insights of leaders in Pinellas, where the team has struggled to generate a strong following at the turnstiles since beginning play in 1998.
The possibility of the Rays relocating within the region gained traction last week when Mayor Bill Foster, who had previously insisted the Rays needed to honor their St. Petersburg contract that runs through 2027, said he would allow the team to consider Tampa sites.
But the members of the St. Petersburg City Council have the final word and would have to amend the Rays’ contract so the team can discuss relocation with Tampa and Hillsborough officials.
Buckhorn and Hagan should make it clear they are not going to ignore Pinellas sentiment as they begin the lengthy process of exploring relocation.
We’d like to see the Rays move to Hillsborough, particularly downtown Tampa — if objective analysis shows it would be a success here.
But a lot of different perspectives need to considered as relocation is investigated.
Buckhorn and Hagan should recognize that Pinellas’ support and counsel will be valuable if Major League Baseball is to come to Hillsborough.