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In Tampa, officials watch Rays’ Montreal plan unfold from the bench

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says she hopes Rays chose Tampa Bay to be team’s ‘forever home.’
In early 2018, signs popped up around Ybor City in the area where the Tampa Bay Rays announced plans to build a stadium. Those plans appear to be dead now that the team is talking about splitting its season between St. Petersburg and Montreal. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published Jun. 25
Updated Jun. 25

TAMPA — No Tampa or Hillsborough County elected officials were at the Salvador Dalí Museum on Tuesday for pitch for Tampa Bay to share its Major League Baseball team with Montreal.

But the idea left Tampa City Council chairman Luis Viera eager for more details. Like how a ballpark would be paid for? What would the team be named?

He noted the mood surrounding Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Stenberg’s bold new idea was much different than just about a year ago.

That was when the Rays unveiled their Ybor City stadium designs at the Italian Club in July. There was a palpable sense of excitement among the packed-house crowd.

Now to go to just sharing a team?

“I don’t think that excitement will be as easily built,” Viera said. “But it’s important to at least listen.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Rays to explore splitting home games with Montreal

PLOT OR PLOY? The Rays’ Montreal Plan: A peek behind the curtain

JOHN ROMANO: Selling the Montreal plan may requiring burning a bridge for the Rays

THE LATEST: Rays explain details of Montreal plan: ‘This is not a staged exit.’

Meanwhile, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who met with Commissioner Ken Hagan, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill and Irwin Raij, the New York stadium deal fixer early Thursday, released a statement.

“We’re still hopeful the Rays will ultimately choose the Tampa Bay region as their forever home,” wrote Castor spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.

Hagan said that he was disappointed that the Rays appear to think that they need two markets to survive, but he said he was confident that Tampa would be their regional home:

“I remain steadfast in my belief that if baseball remains in Tampa Bay, it’ll be in Tampa.”

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