The Tampa Bay Rays are attempting to strike a deal to play half of their home games in Montreal. Will this plan deter free agents from signing with Tampa?
The Tampa Bay Rays have been lobbying to play half of their home games in Montreal since mid-way through last season.
Ownership believes it is the only way for the Tampa area to maintain a professional baseball team. Recently, Major League Baseball Commissioner-Rob Manfred seconded that sentiment.
Canadian businessman and Rays advisor Stephen Bronfman told TSN 690 that “this is real.”
Bronfman raised eyebrows with the following statement:
"“Say the shift [to Montreal] happens second week of June, mid-June,” Bronfman said. “School season is over. Family moves up, they move to Montreal for the summer. Wives are happy. Much nicer city to be in than St. Petersburg, please. Much more cosmopolitan. Much more fun.”"
I cringed a little when I first heard this statement. After a moment of processing, it occurred to me, this can’t be an easy sell to players.
These players have families. They have children who go to school and live in communities. It’s already difficult enough with all of the uncertainty of being traded or the potential of being sent up down between minor league systems, but this sounds bad.
Bronfman laid it out as if it’s some fantastic idea for the players. Like, their wives should consider themselves lucky to be able to move to Montreal for the summers. Then he proceeded to run St. Petersburg into the ground.
The Message Being Sent to Players?
I’m going to paraphrase a bit, but this how I hear it:
“You have to live in two cities during the regular season, and one of those cities really sucks.”
Wow, that sounds appealing.
I seriously doubt Charlie Morton would have signed his contract with the Rays if he had to go through this non-sense. A part of the reason he signed with Tampa was peace of mind and convenience considering he already lived in Florida.
As someone who moved to the area in part because my family loves St. Pete, I think it may be in the Rays’ best interest if this character shuts his mouth.
He’s not helping the club out with comments like this. It looks stupid. “Yeah, come play for the Rays, we’ll pay you less money than other teams and you have to spend half your season in uncivilized St. Petersburg…then you get to spend the rest in Canada…Your wives are going to love it! If they don’t want this then you married a dumb-hick!”
Okay, now I’m putting words in his mouth. I can’t help it, it’s fun.
Now I’ll use someone else’s words. This is from an article by Coastal Living, in which they ranked St. Petersburg as one of the twenty best places to live.
"Nestled on the bright blue waters of Tampa Bay, this cosmopolitan city just keeps getting better and better, with a downtown arts and culture scene best exemplified by the spectacular Dalí Museum anchoring the waterfront. Historic, small-scale neighborhoods balance the big-city pleasures. With mild winters, this is a year-round city of outdoor play, and the proximity of 35 miles of white-sand beaches adds a quality-of-life layer that few other sophisticated enclaves possess."
Bronfman can shut it.
St. Pete is a great place to live and guess what? It’s a great baseball town.
St. Petersburg was rated the 18th best baseball city in the nation by BizJournals.com. The Rays do very good TV ratings. I don’t know the exact reason why attendance suffers. Many fans think it has to do with the stadium’s location and condition. Some say the constant roster churn makes it difficult to build an emotional attachment with the players.
Either way, Bronfman can shut it.
Look, it’s a tough sell for anyone. He’s trying to make the inconvenience of having to move half-way through the season sound like a good thing. It’s a tough sell. Which brings me back to my original point. This is going to be a tough sell to players.
Pitchers and catchers report in less than a week.