Rays could build new stadiums in both Tampa Bay and Montreal, because that’s totally not insane

This is totally unsourced aside from “sources familiar with the situation,” but Jeff Passan is a decent reporter, so take your grain of salt and let’s dive right in:

The Tampa Bay Rays received permission from Major League Baseball’s executive council to explore a plan in which they would play early-season home games in the Tampa Bay area and the remainder of the year in Montreal, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN…

Under the plan, the Rays would play in new stadiums in both the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, according to sources. The ability to play games early in the season in Florida would preclude the need for a domed stadium, cutting the cost of a new building.

Okay, so yes, not having to build a dome would make a Montreal stadium cheaper. But it would also mean building two stadiums, which would be much, much more expensive. Also the Tampa Bay stadium would still probably need a dome because it rains in Florida all the damn time, plus they’d have to figure out how to get two separate fan groups to root for the same team, plus where would they play postseason games, plus how would they work out territorial and TV rights, I mean, really? The stadium watcher who tipped me off to this moments after it was posted prefaced it with “This may be the most cockamamie scheme I’ve ever heard, but you’re the expert,” and I think it just may be. (Note: Those who would like to endorse me on LinkedIn for my Cockamamie skills can do so here.)

If I were a betting man, I would put heavy money on this being a rumor floated by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to put Montreal on the table as a move threat — or at least a partial move threat — at a time when he’s not contractually allowed to talk to cities other than St. Petersburg about a new stadium. (I haven’t checked the Rays’ lease to see what it says about talking to MLB’s executive council about talking to other cities.) But also the Rays’ attendance situation is so dire — they cut ticket prices to $5 recently and still couldn’t get takers — that maybe Sternberg is truly considering this mad plan. It is undeniably cockamamie, but that’s never stopped baseball team owners before.


25 comments on “Rays could build new stadiums in both Tampa Bay and Montreal, because that’s totally not insane

  1. It’s a trial balloon. If they can get the Tampa-Montreal Snowbirds to fly, the world is the limit!

    The New York-London Yankees!!!
    The Boston-Rio Red Sox!!!
    The Seattle-Tokyo Mariners!!!

    30 MLB teams – 60 cities. Coming soon-ish?

    • That would be the New York Yankees – London Loyalists.
      (And the team jersey sales possibilities on those names would be a marketing wet dream )

  2. As stalking horse (even fake horse) moves go, this one takes the cake.

    But sure, why not try to convince two (or more) cities to spend money on hosting your franchise. After all, once you get the initial stadium commitment, you just know that the cities will keep funnelling good money after bad. Otherwise someone might call them stupid for wasting all the money on a stadium in the first place.

    And no matter what it costs, we can’t have that.

    • They should just build stadiums in every part of the country, and play wherever it’s not raining at the time.

  3. also…. from linked WFLA article sidepanel…

    www.wfla.com/news/local-news/tampa-st-pete-ranked-among-cities-with-highest-infidelity-rates-by-ashley-madison/2087889547

    Maybe folks in Tampa just have other stuff to do, you know?

  4. Wouldn’t they have to build a multi-purpose stadium in Montreal, so that they could also accommodate Oakland Raiders games?

  5. Remember in the 1970s and ‘80s when MLB teams use to threaten to move to St. Pete’s!

    • I thought the White Sox were the first to threaten to go to St. Pete, in the mid-’80s. The ’70s were all about Washington and Denver.

          • Don’t forget that the Mariners gave it a go too. Early 90s. https://mlblogsraysrenegade.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/pondering-what-almost-happened-for-tampa-bay-in-1992/

        • The SF Giants almost moved to Toronto in the mid 1970s before a California judge stopped it and new owners came in.

          That Montreal-San Juan experiment 15 years ago didn’t work out well.

        • That’s possible; they were >>>>>this<<<<< close to moving to Toronto in the early 70s.

          Tampa/St. Pete is like Jack Kent Cooke said about LA: when reminded that he thought the Kings were a good idea because of the half a million Canadians living in the area, he didn't know they moved there because they don't like hockey. Do TSP residents not like baseball? Or do they just not like going into a building with all the atmosphere and charm of a morgue?

    • That’s the true genius of this plan, Robert… Once in place, Tampa will be an open market again from May to August or so… meaning at least four other teams can threaten to move to Tampa for a month each year if they don’t get taxpayer funded holographic displays or proper first class cabin seating in the club seats etc.

  6. I could see this concept work with Jacksonville Jaguars and London. Play 4 games in London and 4 in Jacksonville with team base HQ in Florida

  7. The fun won’t really start until a year or so into this deal when they announce they’re looking for a THIRD city to split time in.

  8. This feels like the stock plot line from the Jerry Springer show, where the cheating bf/gf says “you know I love you and I care about you, but I’ve been seeing somebody else”

    The idea that anyone involved with this plan thought this could actually work out well in real life seems so far-fetched that it really is impossible to see it as anything other than a naked power play. Funny thing is that the presentation itself may actually have been even worse than the idea itself…

    • Yes. I guess it wouldn’t be the first attempted power play that ended up reducing the power of it’s creator.

      For both “prospective host” cities, the carrot is pretty small… you have to build a new stadium and you only get a partial season of the team you are building it for. Even the broadcasting rights are unlikely to be overwhelming for these two markets.

      It’s a dumb idea. But it generated headlines across North America. Maybe that’s all it was ever intended to do.

  9. how about miami and st pete. marlins get fla and Rays then can move to throw a dart.

  10. (In the Count’s voice)

    “Children, count with me, one stadium, two stadiums, three stadiums! Ha ha ha ha!”