Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Tampa Bay Rays recently were granted permission to explore the possibility of becoming a 2-City team, in which they would split their home games with Montreal.
While this may come as a shock to many, it really shouldn’t. The Tampa Bay Rays have seemingly forever been linked to Montreal, and now with attendance a bigger problem than ever before and the Ybor stadium site falling through, we should have expected these discussions to come up eventually.
"The Tampa Bay Rays received permission from Major League Baseball’s executive council to explore a plan in which they would play early-season home games in the Tampa Bay area and the remainder of the year in Montreal, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN."
Here is a synopsis of the plan that Passan went on to explain:
- Both teams would play in new stadiums in both Montreal and Tampa
- The Rays would play their early season games in Tampa which would alleviate the need for new stadium to have a dome.
- The number of home games in each city has yet to be decided.
Passan also said this regarding the proposal:
"A deal with Montreal would keep the Rays in Florida while potentially adding significant revenues to the franchise. Montreal offers a robust corporate base for sponsorships and a fervent fan base that could easily support what would amount to a half-season ticket plan. Other teams could object to the Rays occupying two geographical territories, though the support of the executive council to explore the possibility, sources said, constituted a significant step forward."
Passan reported that this concept came about due to the reported interest of Stephen Bronfman (Son of Expos original owner, Charles) in buying minority stake in the Rays. Last month, Bronfman and fellow Canadian businessman Mitch Garber reached an agreement with a developer to potentially build a new stadium in Montreal.
The rest though, is unknown. The rights to potential payoff games along, potential name changes, and much more is all still unknown.
While it would surely open up new revenue streams to the historically small-market Rays, the fallout of a ripping a team from its original city for half of each season can’t be underestimated nor can it be predicted.
MLB only gave the Rays permission to explore the possibility of sharing the team with a sister city. There is no definite plan in place and there is still much to be worked out.
From Marc Topkin:
More reaction and analysis:
It should be noted though that the Rays rank 29th out 30 teams in average attendance, averaging 14,545 fans, more than 2,000 less fans per game than the worst team in baseball.
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For now, all we can do is wait….
Stay posted for additional information as it becomes available!