ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg and Mayor Rick Kriseman met on Monday, presumably to discuss the team’s proposed plan to split future seasons between St. Pete and Montreal.
Neither the team, nor the mayor’s office, had much to say about the meeting, which was the second time the two sides have met since the Rays first floated the Montreal concept.
“We had a cordial meeting and will have no further comment,’’ Rays president Matt Silverman said.
The team’s use agreement at Tropicana Field forbids the Rays from talking to outside parties about playing games anywhere other than St. Pete before 2028.
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That means the Rays need permission from Kriseman, as well as the City Council, before they can seriously explore the Montreal idea.
After the first meeting with the mayor on July 23, Sternberg said he did not ask permission to open talks with Montreal. Kriseman later clarified that Sternberg did not “formally’’ ask permission.
The careful phrasing between the two sides suggest they might be exploring what city officials will want in exchange for granting permission.
If the Rays want to speak to Montreal, Kriseman said last month, it will not happen for free.
That’s a departure from 2016 when the city allowed the team to talk about stadium options in Hillsborough County for three years. That opportunity ended in January when the team and Hillsborough officials could not reach agreement on financing a stadium in Ybor City.
Back in 2016, Kriseman and the council did not seek compensation for allowing the Rays to conduct those talks because a stadium in Tampa would have ensured Major League Baseball remained in the market. The agreement to grant permission specified only that the Rays would give up their rights to potentially valuable redevelopment revenues from the Tropicana Field site.
Now that the Rays are talking about permanently moving 40-45 games a year out of Tampa Bay, Kriseman and the council may want more than the promise of future redevelopment rights in exchange for those exploratory talks with Montreal to begin.
With a decade of poor attendance limiting the team’s revenues, Sternberg has portrayed the Montreal plan as the best way to keep MLB in Tampa Bay. He has previously said it was “highly unlikely’’ that the team would pursue a new stadium here for a full-season schedule.
Like the Rays, the city offered no details about Monday’s meeting.
“The city had another cordial meeting with team officials, and we expect to have more,’’ the mayor’s office said in a statement. “We will be refraining, however, from reporting out the details of these meetings.’’
Time staff writer Josh Solomon contributed to this report. John Romano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.