Tampa Bay Rays Park Won’t Carry Mosaic Name 2/19/10

An offer by Plymouth-based Mosaic Co. to purchase the naming rights for the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays ran into a bit of a stink this week.

The arrangement was ultimately deferred by the baseball team after running into local opposition, including that of the Charlotte County Board, the owner of the stadium.

The County Board has been battling with Mosaic for several years, running up legal fees of $12 million, over Mosaic’s phosphate mining activities northeast of Port Charlotte.

“People in this community believe phosphate damages the environment and if there was an accident it would have a catastrophic effect on our watershed,” said Board Chairman Bob Starr.

Under the proposed deal, Charlotte County would get $75,000 a year but would have to use the revenue for upkeep and improvements at the park. The park would have to be called Mosaic Field at Charlotte Sports Park.

“Money was not a factor for anybody. No amount of money was acceptable,” Starr said. “The Rays didn’t expect the reaction. They did the right thing [withdrawing the proposal] and showed respect for the fans.”

Mosaic spokesman Rob Litt said the company has been a corporate partner with the Rays for the last two years and the naming issue was pulled off the table after the opposition surfaced. “We remain committed to the Rays and we remain committed to our ongoing community investment in the region,” Litt said.

Mosaic is North America’s second-largest fertilizer producer.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269