Here’s a new one, or at least a new old one, in the Rays stadium saga:
The French language newspaper La Presse reported in an “exclusif” story Friday about a plan to have the Rays play half their season in Tampa Bay and the other half in Montreal.
Per the report, the group led by Stephen Bronfman trying to bring a team back to Montreal full time is now focused on the time-sharing scenario, and would become shareholders in the team with current principal owner Stuart Sternberg remaining “a major shareholder.’’
No timetable for implementation is mentioned, though it would be done with the idea of eventually getting a team there full time.
Obviously this kind of plan would present numerous significant legal and logistical issues, given the Rays are contracted to play all home games at the Tropicana Field and are signed there through 2027 and would need permission from the city of St. Petersburg to do otherwise, and both Major League Baseball and the players association would have to grant approval given complications in scheduling and players’ living arrangements among others.
(St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman made clear he would not consider any such proposal, tweeting Friday night:
"And on behalf of the millions of fans who go to the games and watch the Rays on TV, I will not entertain a discussion about a split cities concept. I do stand ready to talk about a partnership w/ the Rays which facilitates the construction of a stadium in St. Petersburg.'')
Also there are the repeated statements, as recently as this week, from Sternberg and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about being focused on finding a stadium solution in the Tampa Bay market. Sternberg reiterated that interest Friday and said these types of reports “unfortunately come with the territory” of not having a new stadium plan.
He said he is contacted frequently by parties interested in the team — and wouldn’t say whether those include Montreal representatives or not — but has had no conversations about selling all or part of it.
“At the end of the day, I’m no different — I just want to find a way to keep baseball here past ’27 and for generations to come,’’ Sternberg said. “And I have no intention of selling the team.’’
"They'll find a way to make (a new stadium) happen," Blake Snell said. "You've just got to be patient, which is the hard part for everyone in this world. Patience is tough.'' #Rays #RaysUp @RaysBaseball @snellzilla4 @TB_Times @TBTimes_Rays https://t.co/5nirhwDRtu— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) February 13, 2019
He did say that he has to increasingly think about where the Rays will be in 2028.
“We are open to any and all ideas that anybody wants to pitch and anybody wants to come up with,’’ he said. “If you got one, I’m all ears. We’re at that point, in a no-stone-unturned kind of thing. The idea doesn’t have to be exclusive to Tampa Bay, but it will be through the lens of making sure baseball is here for generations to come.’’
A similar plan was reported two years ago by the same newspaper, and obviously it hasn’t happened yet. As for specifics, according to the latest report, the team would “play in Montreal during the hot summer months, as well as in Tampa Bay in the spring and late summer.’’