The Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership has been teasing the public with the notion that they could split their home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal. Tony Clark and the Player’s Union could be standing in the way.
The Tampa Bay Rays stand to benefit from (potentially) increased demand for tickets and access to two lucrative television markets. While fans do not like the idea of sharing their team with another city, let alone another country, the players are likely to stand in opposition to such a move as well.
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.”"
Yeah, that’s a tough sell to a player. As much as Bronfman tried to dump all over St. Petersburg, the players will see right through that sales pitch. I’ll take anywhere near Tampa, please.
Players don’t get a raise to play for the Rays and live in two cities during the season. Most of the players are making just over half a million per year. While that’s a good chunk of money, most players have a small window to earn it.
A split-city proposal is simply unfair to the players and the union should stand in firm opposition.
The MLBPA Must Approve
In June, Tony Clark, the head of the MLBPA reminded us that the league will require the union’s approval for a split-city plan.
"Clark said requiring a player to maintain two homes during the season would be “a significant burden.”"
Just a few days ago, Clark chimed into the conversation again.
"“It would be our strong preference that the club and the players remain in Tampa Bay, and that they’re identified with playing in one market.”"
While the Rays’ front office is salivating at the idea of doubling their revenue, this seems like a lost cause when you actually consider the opinion of the guys on the field.
This may end up amounting to nothing more than a bargaining chip. I can’t see a scenario where the players’ union approves this. Should they permit the split-city, what free agent would actually consider playing for the Montreal-Tampa Bay Area Canadian-Rays?
Do you think this is a real possibility?