Sister City Plan Is Dead

Tampa Bay Rays ownership has to mull over its future.

It is all over for the Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership’s “Sister City” plan which called for splitting Rays’ home games between someplace in the Tampa Bay market and Montréal. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who presumably has not been very busy negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players association, told Rays’ chief owner Stu Sternberg to forget about his scheme as the league’s executive council said no to the plan. Sternberg admitted. “Today’s news is flat-out deflating.” Rays’ ownership had invested two and a half years in developing the” Sister City” plan. Sternberg also said something rather interesting. “Partial seasons are going to be the wave of the future in professional sports.” Partial seasons have never worked except in one instance, The National Football League’s Green Bay Packers split home games between Green Bay and Milwaukee between 1933 and 1994 for various reasons including stadium issues in Green Bay and also an attempt to make Green Bay a regional Wisconsin franchise. Despite leaving Milwaukee behind in 1994, Milwaukee money is extraordinarily important as a Packers revenue source.

Regional franchises failed in the American Basketball Association and in the National Basketball Association as Kansas City-Omaha set up in the 1970s was unsuccessful. MLB did attempt a Sister City plan with the financially strapped Montréal Expos franchise playing some home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2003 and 2004. MLB moved the Expos franchise to Washington after the 2004 season. In the 1980s, St. Petersburg, Florida officials were told by MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth not to build a stadium because MLB had no interest in putting a team in the area. But a franchise did come in 1995 because MLB needed a second team to go along with Phoenix for an expansion. Sternberg needs a new plan.

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