Back To The Drawing Board For Rays Ownership

St. Pete hangs onto the team for the time being.  

St. Petersburg, Florida Mayor Rick Kriseman has told the owners of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays franchise that the team must play every home game scheduled in St. Petersburg through the 2027 season. That means the planned move of Rays summer home games to Montreal beginning in 2024 is dead. The team is now scheduled to play out the last eight years of a 30-year lease in the St. Petersburg domed stadium. Major League Baseball wants to get back into the Montreal market. Major League Baseball knows it has people willing to invest in a Montreal team led by Stephen Bronfman, and that the Montreal corporate community seems to be on board with a Major League Baseball team returning to the city. That is something MLB did not have when the Montreal Expos franchise was transferred to Washington after the 2004 season. There is also much more TV money available in Montreal for a team than in 2004. There are still two obstacles and one may not able to be overcome. The Canadian dollar has been hanging around 76 cents US for quite a while and Canadian teams in MLB, the NBA and the NHL do business in American greenbacks. Montreal still does not have an MLB acceptable stadium although MLB Montreal backers have land that they claim can house a baseball talk. In the 1990s there was a push for a new Montreal stadium but that ended around 2002.

Stu Sternberg had an opportunity to change the terms of the lease had he landed a baseball park in Tampa. In 2018, Rays’ owners had plans to build a park in Ybor City. That fell through. What happens next is anybody’s guess or than the Rays will be financially challenged. Maybe a stadium plan will materialize in St. Petersburg or in Tampa that will keep Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay market beyond 2027.

Roy Cummings