Tampa Bay Rays stadium: Crowd will divide by colors when debating

It will be red vs. white in tonight's hearing

By Aaron Sharockman, Times Staff Writer
Published February 21, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - They've polished their speeches. They'll be divided by ideology, and by the color of their wardrobe.

After almost three months of talk from politicians and baseball executives, it's their turn at the microphone. Tonight, residents will get an unfiltered opportunity to discuss the Tampa Bay Rays' $1-billion stadium and redevelopment proposal.

No votes will be taken, but each side wants to build momentum.

Fashion statements:Opponents will wear red; fans will be in white. (No preferred dress for the undecided.)

Come early, stay late:The hearing starts at 6:30 p.m., but people can sign up to speak starting at 3 p.m. The city is braced for 250 speakers. At three minutes each, that would be 121/2 hours.

Why sign in?:It determines the order of speakers. Both sides hope to dominate early talks, when TV cameras will most likely be there.

Hot ticket:The first 100 or so people will be seated in the council chamber. The rest in other City Hall meeting rooms or possibly a nearby Methodist church.

But I can't miss American Idol:There will be two more chances to address the council: April 10 and May 22.

Follow the action

If you go: 6:30 p.m. City Hall, 175 Fifth Street N.

On TV: Knology, Channel 15; Bright House Networks, Channel 615; broadcast, Channel 35.

On the Web

The St. Petersburg Times will provide live updates starting at 3 p.m. at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.