ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The mayor of St. Petersburg isn’t into the “silly” business he thinks Major League Baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays are conducting.
As a result, he says he will not introduce a proposed deal that would see the Rays split time in Montreal.
“I have no intention of bringing this idea to our City Council to consider,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said at a news conference Thursday. “In fact, I believe this is getting a bit silly.”
The Rays received the go-ahead by MLB to explore the possibility of hosting home games in both St. Petersburg and Montreal.
The idea would be for the Rays to play the more temperate spring months in Tampa and finish the rest of the season in Montreal, the former home of the Expos. There is no timetable for the possible plan.
Plenty of roadblocks remain. The Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field does not expire until 2027. Until then, the Rays are contractually barred from negotiating to play games in any other city without permission from Tampa officials.
Kriseman says he won’t allow this deal to happen before the lease is up.
“I’ve always felt that this team is a regional asset,” Kriseman told a local radio station. “The impact on our city and our region as a whole is very different if they go to some other city other than the Tampa Bay area. We’re talking about hundreds of millions more in potential damages.”
The proposed dual-city plan is also contingent on new stadiums built in both Montreal and the Tampa area.
The Rays have ranked last or next-to-last in attendance the past nine seasons. The Expos were last in attendance during their last seven years in Montreal, but spring training games hosted annually at Olympic Stadium since 2014 have drawn well.