Rays’ threat to leave worries St. Pete business owners

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Business owners located in downtown St. Petersburg worry the Tampa Bay Ray’s possible move to Ybor City will hurt businesses along Central Avenue.

McAuley’s Pub is a block away from Tropicana Field.  The owner, Mike McAuley credits the Rays with helping the pub thrive.

“Well, it’s incredible. That’s how you make your profit for most of the year,” he said.

On Friday, the team announced interest in moving the team across the Bay to Ybor City.

But if the team leaves, so will McAuley’s Pub, the owner says.

“I’ll shut it down or sell it. I’ll just get out of here because it’s not worth it to keep it running to me and that’s going to happen all the way to downtown here,” said McAuley.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is fighting to keep the Rays in town. “It is not a final decision,” Kriseman said. “It is far from being a final decision at this point. It is just another step in the process.”

But if the Rays head to Ybor City, other projects planned for the lot will be just as profitable and bring more jobs to the area, according to the mayor.

“It gives us another 16 acres that we can redevelop. That means more opportunity for more office, more university and research or affordable and attainable housing,” Kriseman added.

However, McAuley disagrees. “I might get more lunch people in here. I might get a little bit afterwards, but they’ll just go home, they’re working, they’ll go home and do their stuff in there. I make the money because the people are going to the games,” he said.

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