If you keep up with baseball, then you’ll know the Tampa Bay Rays have been searching for a way to build a new stadium for a decade. They have now perhaps conjured up a way to do that. Maybe.
Before we get into that, let’s not forget that the Rays are the team that created Oddball, which is a pitching method where the team starts the game with their closer instead of their starting pitcher. Later, the closer is relieved and then what would be the starting pitcher takes over the game.
The Rays are creative, I’ll give them that. Which is why this idea for playing in two cities at two separate times of the season isn’t surprising at all.
The idea is that the Rays would play their early regular season schedule in Tampa, where the weather would be reasonable, not nearly as muggy and hot like most of the Florida weather is during the later months of the summer, and then would move the team to Montreal in the second half of the season.
It’s a creative, bold concept because it has never been done before. It’s perhaps either a last ditch effort by the Rays owner Stuart Sternberg to get a new stadium in the Tampa area, or getting out from under the Florida sun into another city that wants his team.
The Rays have been eagerly seeking for a new stadium for a decade with no luck from those in the surrounding Tampa area to offer any financial assistance. The feeling is that the Rays still want to stay in Tampa, however, but they need a new home to create a better atmosphere for players and fans, competing with the rest of the league. The thought is that could potentially happen if this newly proposed plan comes through.
And that’s what’s odd about this—not only will the Rays apparently get a new stadium, but Montreal will also get a new stadium as well.
This makes no sense to me, though.
Why would both cities get a new stadium if the team is becoming a split city team? First off, the mayor of St. Petersburg already said he wouldn’t consider this idea, so that’s really a none issue altogether. But even if there is a change of heart, I’m not sure why two cities get two brand new stadiums for one team? How does the MLB, the city of Montreal (and the country of Canada because of competing television rights with the Blue Jays) and the city of St. Petersburg, Florida all coexist on this? This has tons of moving parts.
This is all according to an ESPN article that also stated that the benefit of a hopeful new Tampa stadium would that it would not need a dome since the team would be playing there in the early part of the season in more feasible weather, thus cutting stadium cost.
There’s still so many questions to ask here, though. As in, what do you call the team? The team has to be completely re-branded one would think, right? With such an unprecedented move, the team would need a new name.
Let’s face it—the Rays name doesn’t exactly fit when the team plays the second half in Montreal.
What about potential playoff games? The Rays are currently a playoff team right now, so imagine, lets say after the All-Star break they moved their home games to Canada—are playoff games then played there? How is that decided? Would one series be played in Montreal and a potential other be played in Tampa? What about a World Series? Imagine the backlash from the fans from both cities when they don’t receive a one of those playoff series.
And not only for playoff scenarios, but what about when the team is doing well in August and September, vying for the playoffs, argubaly the most exciting time of the season … fans in Tampa would be furious not being able to see that. Vice versa for opening weekend in Tampa where fans would always get an opening weekend, where in Montreal, the first game wouldn’t potentially be until mid-July.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges may be—if this even made it far enough to be put into realism—is getting the players’ approval, which is something that has to be passed.
I’m not sure what player would want to live half of the season in Tampa, then the other half of the season in Canada, not to mention all the travel for away games. Most players have families who they don’t see often during the season anyways, so then adding a move not only to another city, but one in a different country, seems like an idea that would not set well with most players.
The Rays seemingly can’t do anything until after their lease runs out with the City of St. Petersburg in 2027. Unless they pull a Rachel Phelps, the owner of the Cleveland Indians in the movie Major League. In the film, Phelps puts together a rag-tag group of washed-up players in hopes her team finishes dead last, therefore giving her a case to get out of her lease with the city of Cleveland, then moving the team to Miami.
Without a doubt, something definitely comes out of this in the future, ultimately, I believe, with the Rays getting out of Tampa and into one of the many rumored cities that the MLB is looking to move into next—Las Vegas, Portland, Nashville, Charlotte or Montreal.