The Tampa Bay Rays are looking into all options in order to keep Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area. The Rays have been granted permission from the MLB’s executive council to explore the idea of splitting home games between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal.
After years of unsuccessful attempts to get a new stadium built in the Tampa Bay area, the Rays have adopted this new multi-city plan as a possible solution to keeping the Major League team in the North Florida gulf region.
The Multicity Plan:
Although the proposed plan is only in the infancy stages this is what the plan would entail. Both Tampa Bay (St. Petersburg) and Montreal would get a new stadium. Most likely, the Stadium in Florida would be a smaller one.
Earlier in the MLB season, the Rays would play their home games in the Tampa Bay area with the rest of the home games played in Montreal. They have not decided on how many games would be played in each of the two locations. I believe the first 20-30 games would be played in the Tampa region.
Current State of the Franchise:
The current state of the Rays is in bad shape. They have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Their opening day payroll was $65 million. Despite having well above a .500 record and currently being in second place in their division behind the New York Yankees, they can’t draw fans in to attend the games. This absolutely devastates the organization’s revenue stream. The team’s average attendance is 14,546 per game, which is the second-lowest in the MLB; no wonder they can’t get funding approved for a new stadium there.
Other Sports Teams that have Split Cities:
Th Montreal Expos played 22 games in Puerto Rico in 2003. The NBA’s Kings split time between Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri back in the 70’s as well. It has never sustained long term success in professional sports though.
“My priority remains the same, I am committed to keeping baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come,” says Stuart Sternberg the owner of the Rays. “I believe this concept is worthy of serious exploration.”
“The Rays cannot explore playing any Major League Baseball games in Montreal or anywhere else for that matter prior to 2028, without reaching a formal memorandum of understanding with the City of St. Petersburg,” says Rick Kriseman who is the mayor of St. Petersburg. “Ultimately, such a decision is up to me. And I have no intention of bringing this latest idea to our city council to consider. In fact, I believe this is getting a bit silly.”