Rays owner says splitting games with Montreal is the best option for keeping MLB in Tampa

Jun 26 2019, 12:30 pm

How about a little half-and-half?

And no, not for your coffee — for your baseball.

Stu Sternberg, the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, held a press conference in Florida on Tuesday and he said a shared season with Montreal is the best option for keeping Major League Baseball in Tampa.

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Sternberg was adamant that he has “no intention of selling this baseball team” but argued that the Tampa Bay area can no longer support Major League Baseball for a full 81 home game schedule.

He was clear that the hybrid-city structure, splitting games between new stadiums in both Montreal and Tampa Bay, is the only realistic option for baseball to continue in St. Petersburg.

“This is not a staged exit,” said Sternberg at the news conference, broadcasted by 95.3 WDAE Radio. “This is about Tampa Bay keeping its hometown team and Montreal having one too. I believe strongly in the sister-city concept. We’re asking for open minds.”

Before taking questions, Sternberg promised nothing about his team’s future beyond the expiration of the lease at Tropicana Field, the team’s current ballpark, which runs until 2027.

The Rays have been playing at ‘The Trop’ since their inaugural season in 1998 and draw the second-lowest attendance in all of Major League Baseball, second to the Miami Marlins.

Sternberg says his vision involves having an Opening Day in Tampa Bay along with a “sendoff game” ahead of the Montreal season-opener. Montreal would host the second half of the schedule during its peak summer tourism months.

When asked about potential names and playoff structure, the Rays owner said “that’s a high class problem I’d love to have” but didn’t go any further.

Stephen Bronfman, the son of former Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman, is part of a group of financiers attempting to bring baseball back to la belle province.

baseball

Rendering of a new potential Montreal baseball stadium (Image: Provencher Roy)

If the sister-city plan succeeds, Sternberg says it’s a possibility that he’d let Bronfman and Co. join the Rays ownership, but he would remain as the primary owner and control interest.

Sternberg concluded the press conference by reiterating he’d be “unsure” as to what could happen to the Rays past 2027 if the joint-city schedule plan fails.

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