After years of failing to win support for a new stadium where they are, ESPN reports, the Rays see the two-hometowns possibility as the most likely way to keep baseball in the Tampa Bay area-at least part of the time.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to reporters in New York City on Thursday.
A more realistic reading of Thursday's news, which Manfred announced following an owners meeting, is that it is a ploy by the Rays and Major League Baseball to gain leverage over municipalities in the Tampa region for a new stadium, with the threat of a move to Montreal dangled as the other option.
"The objective of a split season would be to preserve baseball in Tampa, but improve the economics of the club overall by playing some of their games in Montreal", Manfred said.
Meanwhile, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he doesn't intend on permanently moving the team away from western Florida. "I believe the concept is of serious consideration". "They said to be prepared because things can happen very quickly".
The Rays now have an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg requiring that all home games be played at Tropicana Field through 2027.
Contractually obligated, for now, to play their home games at Tropicana Field through 2027, the Rays are suggesting the only way to save baseball in the market is to stay half the time. "Ultimately, such a decision is up to me. And I have no intention of bringing this idea to our city council to consider", he added. "In fact, I believe this is getting a bit silly", he said.
Major League Baseball has played exhibition games in Montreal in recent years involving the Toronto Blue Jays, and have drawn well for those. With the home schedule split that way, the Florida stadium wouldn't need a roof, which would cut the cost. Tropicana Field is located in his city. In Montreal, Stephen Bronfman - son of former Expos owner Charles - has an agreement in place with a local developer to potentially build a new park in Point-Saint-Charles.
Most recently, the Rays explored a stadium deal in Ybor City and released renderings of a glass-domed venue.
Tampa Bay - which joined the American League as the Devil Rays in 1998 and then shortened the nickname to Rays a decade later - is averaging 14,546 fans per home game, ahead of only the Miami Marlins.
"Sharing with the team with Montreal is not an option", Kriseman said Thursday evening.
"I think it could do nothing but help, honestly". If this fails, it is not going to fail on account of Montreal's effort. That is one of the manning obstacles the Rays would face in any future arrangement that has them playing in Florida and Montreal. The Expos relocated to Washington following the 2004 season where they remain today as the Washington Nationals.
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