The Rays have explored the possibility of dividing future seasons between Florida and Montreal, Canada, but that no longer appears to be on the table. St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman announced this week that he will not give the Rays permission to seek a Tampa Bay-Montreal split, per Josh Solomon and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. While the Rays had hoped to play games in Montreal by 2024, that’s not happening without the blessing of St. Petersburg.
Rays owner David Sternberg isn’t thrilled with Kriseman’s decision, as he said, “We do not agree that this is the best path forward.”
Sternberg went on to suggest future relocation could be on the table, stating, “We recognize that we must now consider our post-2027 options and all that entails and we remain steadfast in our belief that the sister city concept is deserving of serious consideration.”
Likewise, Rays president Brian Auld isn’t happy.
“It remains clear to us, and we continue to believe that it’s also true for the city, that the worst of possible outcomes here is for the team to be compelled to stay here through the end of the 2027 season,” Auld said, “and forced to pursue other options in a noncooperative engagement with the city of St. Petersburg.”
The Rays will be free to relocate if they and their city don’t establish a new union after the 2027 season. Until then, the Rays are bound to Tropicana Field – which many regard as one of the worst stadiums in baseball. Thanks in part to their unpalatable facility, the Rays posted the second-lowest attendance in baseball in 2019. It looks as if franchise higher-ups have had enough. Auld essentially told the Tampa Bay Times that, barring a true solution to their stadium problems, the Rays stand a good chance of leaving when they’re able.
“We don’t like to say never, but I think as (Sternberg) said on the day of the (June 25 Montreal) announcement at the Dali museum, it’s highly unlikely that a full season baseball team in Tampa Bay is going to be here in 2028,” Auld said.
Meanwhile, Rays president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman admitted that “the clock is ticking” in regards to an answer on the organization’s future. If the Rays do exit Tampa Bay in roughly a decade, Solomon, Topkin and TB Times colleague John Romano list Orlando, Nashville, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland, Vancouver and even Montreal as possible new homes for the franchise. Orlando’s efforts to land a major league team are already underway.