The Tampa Bay Rays have thrown their support behind the effort to destroy the city’s 106-year-old Confederate monument.
The Minor League baseball team based in St. Petersburg, Florida, released a contradictory statement late last week claiming on one hand that such decisions as whether to eliminate a Confederate monument is a government decision, while on the other urging the city to take action.
The team released a statement to the Tampa Bay Times claiming that the team has “long supported and are committed to diversity and inclusion.”
The statement continued saying, “We understand and believe that these decisions belong in the hands of elected officials,” but then went on to contradict itself by adding, “At the same time, we are supportive of its removal from the courthouse.”
The Hillsborough County Commission has been considering the removal of the statue erected in 1911, but a recent vote to do so failed by a single vote.
With the statement by the Rays in hand, the paper asked several of the other local teams for their statements, as well.
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had not responded to a request for a statement, the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team was less obviously supportive of removing the monument in its note on the issue.
“We believe this important decision should rest with the county commissioners that have been elected to represent us and our county,” the Lightning statement read. “We trust these officials to carefully study all considerations necessary as they make their decisions, trusting them to govern Hillsborough County in the best interest of all its people.”
The Rays, though, may offer a compelling voice in the removal of the monument because the team has been considering moving from St. Petersburg to Tampa Bay. The possibility of the team moving to Tampa may act as a further enticement to urge that last vote to come to the side of those wanting to whitewash the history of the city.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.