Rays, Mosaic Company Drop Naming-Rights Pursuit 2/17/10

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays and the Mosaic Company have decided to not pursue their naming rights agreement for the Charlotte Sports Park for an indefinite period.

“While we believe this naming rights deal presents many benefits to both the Rays and the entire community, neither the Rays nor Mosaic wants it to distract the team and fans from their focus on baseball,” Rays senior vice president Mark Fernandez said Wednesday in a team release.

The Rays and phosphate company announced their 15-year partnership for the naming rights on Feb. 3, but asked the Charlotte County Commission to not vote on the matter during last week’s commission meeting.

David Townsend, Mosaic’s assistant vice president of public affairs, said at the time both sides wanted to regroup before subjecting the deal to the vote of the commission, which must approve any naming rights agreement for the Rays spring training facility.

On Wednesday, both sides announced they would defer pursuit of the agreement until at least the end of spring training, maybe longer.

The deal, which would pay Charlotte County $77,250 this year and more than $1.4 million over the life of the agreement, was met with opposition from several environmentalist groups and at least one member of the Charlotte County Commission.

“Community investment is a core element of Mosaic’s culture and our principal reason for entering into the naming rights agreement with the Rays,” Townsend said in the same release. “We remain committed to continuing and building upon our history of support to communities throughout our operating area.”

The county has fought Mosaic over mining in the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor watersheds during the past decade. The disputes went to court four times, with the courts ruling in Mosaic’s favor in each case.

Mosaic’s name was found throughout the stadium last spring, including on top of the dugouts. Townsend said his company and the Rays will remain partners and Mosaic’s logo will still appear inside the stadium.

By ROGER MOONEY | The Tampa Tribune

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