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Rays pitch Montreal plan, MLB owners take no action for now

The commissioner says other business took precedence. Stuart Sternberg said there could be a response in a few weeks.
Fans cheer as the Rays line up along the baseline for introductions just prior to taking on the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series last month at Tropicana Field.
Fans cheer as the Rays line up along the baseline for introductions just prior to taking on the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series last month at Tropicana Field. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 18

Major League Baseball’s Executive Council heard a formal presentation of the Montreal season-sharing plan from top Rays officials but took no action at the quarterly owners meeting that concluded Thursday in Chicago.

Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated it was a matter of the eight-owner panel needing more time to review details given a number of other pressing issues, such as negotiations for a new labor agreement and media contract issues, than taking issue with the plan. The topic could be revisited soon.

“The council didn’t come to a conclusion on that, but really almost exclusively because of the press of other business,” Manfred said. “It’s a complicated topic. ... We just have a lot out there right now. More to follow on that one.”

The Council could have given the Rays permission to go from exploring the plan — which was granted in June 2019 — to pursuing it, which could help the team build support. The Rays plan to play in two new open-air stadiums, starting the season in the Tampa Bay area (likely Ybor City) then relocating around early June to Montreal. Postseason games would be rotated between the sites annually.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the council could take action by next month.

“Commissioner Manfred and Major League Baseball are pleased and encouraged by our progress and efforts to secure the future of the Rays in Tampa Bay,” Sternberg said in a statement. “We presented our sister city plan to MLB’s executive council and expect to have more formal feedback in the coming weeks.”

The request involves changes to MLB’s bylaws, which makes the issue somewhat complicated. Though the next scheduled owners meeting is not until February, the council could convene and vote via conference call.

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