‘That just can’t be real.' National media reacts to Rays’ Montreal idea

Spoiler alert: Nobody thinks it’s a good idea for the Rays to play in St. Petersburg and Montreal.
Empty seats are a familiar sight at Tropicana Field. The Rays had the worst attendance in Major Leageu Baseball in 2017 with an average crowd of 15,670 per game. This year has been even more barren. Going into Monday night's game, the Rays were averaging 14,618 per game. [Times files (2017)]
Empty seats are a familiar sight at Tropicana Field. The Rays had the worst attendance in Major Leageu Baseball in 2017 with an average crowd of 15,670 per game. This year has been even more barren. Going into Monday night's game, the Rays were averaging 14,618 per game. [Times files (2017)]
Published June 20, 2019|Updated June 21, 2019

By now, you’ve probably heard the news.

The Rays are exploring the possibility of splitting home games with Montreal in future seasons as part of a plan the team says would keep baseball in the Tampa Bay area long-term.

Rays’ beat writer Marc Topkin laid out a number of the issues with this here. Those on social media highlighted further problems, including just how difficult it is to get from Tampa to Montreal.

Whether it was through tweets or strongly-worded columns, not many in the national media think the idea is a good one, for any parties.

Here’s what they had to say.

Deadspin: Rays Suggest Playing Half Their Home Games In Montreal: Seriously, What The Hell?

Given all of the problems with the Rays—and there are many—dire situations call for nontraditional thinking. Like hanging out with your friends and smoking a ton of weed and wondering aloud Dude. What if a team could play in two cities? That is probably not how this proposed solution to the Rays’ attendance woes came about, but process matters less than outcome.

This is, both on the face of it and once you interrogate the implications a little, completely bats--t. Would they switch uniforms and logos midseason? Would either city give a s--t about its half-team? Would any free agent except those who hate their families and don’t like seeing them want to play for this team? What of Youppi!?

Is there any real reason to think Montreal could currently support a team better than the Tampa Bay region does, or than Montreal did before?

Is this proposal serious?

I do not for a second believe this will ever actually happen, as much as I’d sort of love to see the chaos.

Read the rest of Barry Petchesky’s article here.

Barstool: The Tampa Bay Rays Might Play Half Their Future Seasons In Montreal Which Could Be The Dumbest Idea In The History Of Dumb Ideas

That’s real actual life? The solution for the Rays after all this time is to be a two city/country team? That just can’t be real.

Imagine a board room of people trying to hash out this master plan and the best they can come up with is splitting the season in Montreal? That’s a tell tale sign of a group of people out of ideas.

Back in December I begged Major League Baseball to move them permanently to Canada. Give them a fanbase they deserve. The fans of Montreal deserve baseball back in their lives.

I meant for the whole season you morons. How is a two city/country team going to work? What do you expect players to do with their families? Trent suggested them having two separate families which I don’t hate. How can you expect one free agent to agree to sign there? Who is willingly going to sign up for that circus? You’re basically signing up to not see your family for half the season. I guess to some players that’s not the worst idea?

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Read the rest of Hubb’s article here.

USA Today: 8 questions we have about the Rays potentially playing in Tampa and Montreal

Major League Baseball has given the franchise permission to “explore a plan” that would entail playing early home games in Tampa and others in Montreal. We know that Expos fans want a team back and that the Rays don’t draw a ton of fans.

But … what?!

To reiterate: This is just an exploration to see if it would work. But after hearing this plan, we have so many questions about how it would work. We’ve compiled them here, and some of them have actual answers:

1. What would the team be called?

This is more important than you’d think. Would they be the Tampa Bay Rays while in Florida and the Montreal Expos up north? Would they stick with the Rays name but be the Tampa Bay/Montreal Rays? Tampatreal X-Rays?

2. Will the two cities get new stadiums?

Yes, according to Passan:

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.

3. And who’s paying for those new stadiums?

That’s the, er, billions of dollars question. If it’s taxpayers, are they really willing to pay for half of a year of home games?

4. Where would playoff games be held?

This is where the idea takes a really bad turn. How do you decide that? By whose fanbase is louder? A social media #playoffsinMTL vs. #playoffsinTB runoff? Game 1 in Canada, Game 2 in Florida … yikes.

5. Would free agents really want to sign with a team that plays in two different places?

I would think that uprooting your family for half the year or being away from them a lot more isn’t that appealing.

Read the rest of Charles Curtis’ article here.

Washington Post: Ex-Rays vision? MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays explore splitting home games with Montreal

While the possibility of a two-city solution is little more than hypothetical at this point, and would face significant logistical hurdles, it underscored the long, sad, puzzling plight of the Rays, who are averaging an American League-worst 14,546 fans per home game this season, despite having the sixth-best record in baseball.

The Rays’ ownership has sought a new stadium deal in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for more than a decade, with little to no progress. The most recent plan, an $892 million proposed stadium in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood, collapsed in December. The team’s lease at Tropicana Field, an unsightly, domed stadium on the St. Petersburg side of the bay, expires in 2027.

Realistically, the two-city strategy has enough impediments to be considered almost impossible to pull off. Chief among them would be the approval of baseball’s players union, which would almost certainly balk at a situation in which its members had to arrange for living quarters in two cities.

A more realistic reading of Thursday’s news, which Manfred announced following an owners meeting, is that it is a ploy by the Rays and MLB to gain leverage over municipalities in the Tampa region for a new stadium, with the threat of a move to Montreal dangled as the other option.

Neither city is likely to build a new stadium for the Rays — or whatever new nickname they would hypothetically adopt — for half a season’s worth of games each season.

Read the rest of Dave Sheinin’s article here.

Yahoo Sports: Rays’ proposal to play half their games in Montreal rife with potential issues

Major League Baseball has given the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore playing half their games in Montreal. Under the proposed scenario, the Rays would open the season playing games in Tampa Bay, but move to Montreal later in the season, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

The plan, which Passan notes is still in its “nascent stages,” is rife with potential issues. How will the season be split up between both stadiums? If the Rays make the playoffs, which stadium will host games? How will contracts work if players are splitting time between the United States and Canada? How long will this agreement last? What will happen with the team’s other employees? Will they be expected to relocate midseason? Will separate staffs operate at both facilities?

On Thursday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the proposal was more of a long-term project.

From 2012 to 2017, the Rays have ranked dead last in attendance. Despite a 43-31 record this season, the team isn’t faring much better. The Rays rank 29th in attendance, averaging 14,545 fans in 2019. Only the Miami Marlins have drawn fewer fans.

The Rays’ attendance issues are well known around the league. It’s reached a point where the team’s players — both current and former — have called out the lack of fans at the park.

Playing half the team’s games in another country seems like a strange way to solve that issue. Given the numerous complications involved with pulling this off, the proposal could prove to be far more of a headache than anyone is willing to take on.

Read the rest of Chris Cwik’s article here.


LES RAYS? Rays to explore splitting home games with Montreal

JOHN ROMANO: If the Montreal idea is bogus, what are the Rays really thinking?

FAN REACTION: Fans react with anger, sorrow over possibility

ST. PETE REACTION: “A bit silly:” Kriseman dismisses Rays’ proposal to split season with Montreal

TAMPA REACTION: ‘How much more can they do to screw two cities?’ Rays’ Montreal news stuns Tampa, Hillsborough officials.