Rays' unusual proposal to split games between St. Petersburg and Montreal is dead -- at least until 2028
The mayor of St. Petersburg says talks to that end are off
In June the Tampa Bay Rays received permission from MLB to explore a unique arrangement -- splitting their home schedule between their current home at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and Montreal, former home of the Expos. This of course all flowed from the Rays' ongoing desire to obtain a new ballpark, largely at someone else's expense.
The complicating factor is that the Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027, andsuch an alteration to that least would require permission from the St. Petersburg city council. Speaking of that complication, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday declared talks between city and team to be over and thus the possibility of a "team-sharing" arrangement with Montreal to be off the table.
Here's what Kriseman wrote in a memo to city council, via Noah Pransky on Twitter:
"Both parties have agreed that the best path forward is to abide by the existing use agreement with the understanding that the agreement allows for the Rays organization to explore post-2027 split or full-season opportunities, both in St. Petersburg and elsewhere."
Soon thereafter, the Rays owner Stuart Sternberg issued a response through the club:
"We agree generally with Mayor Kriseman's characterization of our months of conversations, though we would like to clarify two points. First, we do not agree that this is the best path forward. Second, we asked for the opportunity to explore this concept with both St. Petersburg and Montreal, and with Tampa and Montreal.
"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."
One key takeaway is here that Sternberg leaves open the possibility of a two-city setup that does not include St. Petersburg. The more pressing issue is that, again, the Tropicana Field lease that won't expire until before the 2028 season. At this point, the smart money says the Rays will remain where they are until after the 2027 season. Sternberg says as much when he emphasizes the club's "post-2027 options" in his statement.
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