Some Canadian suggests Montréal and Tampa sharing Rays, people take it seriously because February

How can you tell it’s a slow time for sports news? When you get a Montréal newspaper (La Presse, in this case) writing that hey, what if the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t totally move to Montréal, but just played half their home games there? Via Google Translate:

According to information obtained by La Presse, the idea of “joint ownership” of Rays with the current owners circulates behind the scenes, not to completely relocate the team to Montreal, but to have “shared custody” in some so.

The Rays would play half their games of the season “regular” in Montreal and the other half in Tampa. One way to help the club in Florida and reduce the bill for potential buyers, here.

“The bite would be less fat, says a source involved in the reflection. You do not have to sign a check for 600 million US, but 300 million. That would dampen spending, but also the risk, given that the team would be attached to both markets simultaneously.”

Hey, that actually makes … no real sense at all. Both cities are fine enough smallish MLB markets, but if what Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is after is a new stadium, he’d then be faced with figuring out how to get two built instead of one — the only place to play baseball in Montréal right now is Olympic Stadium, which is even older and more unpleasantly domed than Tropicana Field. La Presse seems to think that the Rays could make more TV money this way somehow — “‘There would be no 50% discount for the sponsor because the TV rights are sold to two different broadcasters. It’s win-win!’ said an anonymous source” — but this assumes that both Tampa Bay and Montréal fans would be just as interested in half a team as in a whole team, which seems dubious from here.

The last team I can recall trying something like this on more than an interim basis was the Virginia Squires of the ABA, who split their time among Norfolk, Hampton, Richmond, and Roanoke, which are at least within driving distance of each other, not to mention in the same country. The Montreal Bay Rayspos, on the other hand … sorry, there’s no reason to take this seriously based on “reflection” “behind the scenes.”

Unless you’re Tampa Bay Times sportswriter Marc Topkin, who’s never met an opportunity to stump for a new Rays stadium he didn’t like, of course:

A creative, if not desperate, idea to bring baseball back to Montreal was floated today in the the French language newspaper La Presse — buying the Rays and having them play half their home games in Canada and half in the Tampa Bay area.

The idea of “joint ownership” and “shared custody” is said to be circulating “behind the scenes” among Montreal baseball interests, François Cardinal writes.

How many more days till pitchers and catchers, already?

10 comments on “Some Canadian suggests Montréal and Tampa sharing Rays, people take it seriously because February

  1. Back in the mid 70s the then Kansas City Kings renamed themselves the Kansas City-Omaha Kings and did the split schedule thing for a couple of seasons. It worked out well for them obviously…

  2. Agreed that this does not work from a stadium building perspective, but I do think that the TV rights deal makes sense, that fans in both cities would watch 120 road games instead of the normal 80. Could be a tourism boost too if they schedule the Florida games for spring and fall and the Montreal games for summer. They might also be able to get away with building smaller than normal parks if they think they can charge higher prices per ticket based on the scarcity.

    Big issue is the playoffs, how would they justify a new ballpark in Montreal if any playoff games would be in Tampa? Nice idea but zero chance this happens.

  3. So it would be like spring training all season. Maybe the Grape nut league. I favor the rays moving to Montreal and becoming the expos.

  4. The Expos tried something similar with the Puerto Rico experiment during their final days, didn’t they? Granted, it only lasted a year or two before they decamped to DC.

  5. Unfortunately, for Montreal, the only baseball they will see for at least the next 50 years, will be exhibition baseball.

  6. That was just…a remarkable bit of made-up reporting. Or someone said it to him with a straight face and he bought it. Either way, no, not really feasible.

  7. Instead of having a mostly empty ballpark/stadium in one city, they could now be playing to empty “crowds” in two. Great plan! Rayspos? No. Ex-Rays. There’s the name.

    Don’t forget about the Green Bay / Milwaukee Packers.


  8. A really slow news day. The newspaper should be embarrassed for allowing such idle talk to pass as news.

  9. Kei: Yes, they did. 22 “home” games in San Juan for a couple of seasons… it made it even less likely that people would buy tickets in Montreal (which, given the ownership was not very likely anyway), and generally speaking both fans and players hated the arrangement.