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Thursday, January 20, 2022

MLB kills Rays’ split-city plan with Montreal

The Rays’ proposed plan to split seasons in Montreal has been killed by Major League Baseball officials, the Tampa Bay Times has learned, creating even more uncertainty about the team’s long-term future in Tampa Bay.

The decision is sure to frustrate and stun team officials, who had spent 2 ½ years on the project and were expecting approval to proceed with efforts to get open-air stadiums built in both markets. The Rays also sought approval from the players union.

Rays prinicpal owner Stuart Sternberg is set to discuss the issue with media at 1 p.m. Among the questions will be whether the Rays will now seek permission from MLB to explore relocation to another market, and if Sternberg, who took over the team in 2005, will look to sell.

Rays officials now will head down a path they have explored — and dismissed — previously: seeking a new full-time home in the Tampa Bay area. The lease agreement at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season and plans to build a new stadium would likely need to be in place by 2023 to be ready for opening day 2028.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 12:25 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: montreal, rays

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 01:47 PM (#6061726)
I can't believe this idea got rejected simply for being completely stupid.
   2. GregD Posted: January 20, 2022 at 01:57 PM (#6061735)
I hear Vegas is looking for a team
   3. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:10 PM (#6061738)
12:42 PM: Though he made no express commitments, Sternberg made his disappointment with the Executive Council’s decision clear. When asked explicitly if he’d explore moving the franchise out of the Tampa Bay region, Sternberg neither confirmed nor denied that such an idea had entered into his plans, stating that club brass “will see how the stands look this year…to help inform us as we move forward” but that they had been “all-in on this plan” and had “completely pushed our chips in.”

The owner also made a bit of news in disclosing that he’s privy to full-season proposals currently being put together by both the city of Tampa and Pinellas County (home to St. Petersburg) but expressed doubts about the long-term viability of either (it isn’t clear if Tampa’s full-season proposal involves the same Ybor City site that the split-season proposal did). Though he stated that “the region is willing to and able to and looking forward to supporting us in every way it can” and that he was “certainly going to be exploring things in the Tampa Bay region,” he also expressed doubts that the region could “handle 81 games of baseball…that just hasn’t happened to this point.” Asked directly if Tampa deserves a full-season baseball team, Sternberg responded simply that it “deserves to have baseball.”

Most striking, perhaps, were Sternberg’s comments on the long-term viability of single-city teams, even as he stands alone among owners in major sports in proposing a split-city arrangement. “Partial seasons are going to be the wave of the future in professional sports,” he stated, adding that Montreal has “earned the right to have baseball back.”


link

I'm no billionaire visionary, but I disagree that partial seasons are the wave of the future, unless he means we're gonna have a lockout every year.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:21 PM (#6061745)

I'm no billionaire visionary, but I disagree that partial seasons are the wave of the future, unless he means we're gonna have a lockout every year.


Or a pandemic.
   5. . Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:23 PM (#6061747)
“Partial seasons are going to be the wave of the future in professional sports,”


What an asinine observation. Other than the barnstorming NFL games in London, there isn't a single "partial season" in all of pro sports. Even the things that most resembled them -- the Kansas City-Omaha Kings and the Carolina Cougars and the Floridians and the like -- peaked 50 years ago. There hasn't been an actual, purposeful structure like the Tampa/Montreal one ... ever? I know there hasn't been one since at least 1970.

You went "all-in" on a shitty plan, dude. Deal with it.
   6. . Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:32 PM (#6061751)
It should be said though that it's possible that what Sternberg is insinuating is that baseball, behind the scenes, has kicked around the idea of split-city franchises or "partial seasons" as a way to stop the industry's stagnation.(*) That's eminently possible and could be what comes after gambling. I can't see what the appeal of it would be; OTOH, I've lived in close proximity to major league sports my entire life. If I lived in Tulsa, would I be into 20 major league baseball games split with a couple other cities? Maybe, I guess. There's certainly nothing in the template of the universe or the cosmos mandating that pro sports franchises be branded as [City/Nickname] or for that matter have only a single geographic home.

(*) And from those kick-arounds, Sternberg has rather clumsily and kind of like an inbred, assumed that the talks make it the "wave of the future."
   7. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:35 PM (#6061752)
Good!
   8. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:50 PM (#6061756)
We've been hearing about this terrible long-term lease in Tampa seemingly forever. It is a reminder of how fast life goes by that the team can actually see this end date on the horizon.

Look, the Rays have been generally really good most of the 14 years - they've made the World Series twice, the playoffs seven times in those 14 years, and have won 90 games (counting the 2020 pace) nine times in the last 14 years. They've had exciting young players, they've won in interesting, innovative ways...I'm not really sure what else you can ask...and the attendance has been lousy. With the exception of 2008-2010, when they first were competitive (and got ~1.8m), they've gotten between about 1.1m-1.3m every year, whether they were winning or not.

The Bucs have no trouble getting fans; the Lightning have very good attendance figures, too. So whatever the problem is, it has not gotten better for the Rays, and they should move...probably to Montreal.

I think the trick is getting Montreal to approve a stadium by 2023, so the team can be in Montreal for Opening Day 2028. It pretty obviously has to be a stadium with a retractable roof. Assuming they'd be kept in the AL East, the number of fans who come up from New England and New York State to go to Expos games will be significant.
   9. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:57 PM (#6061758)
There hasn't been an actual, purposeful structure like the Tampa/Montreal one ... ever? I know there hasn't been one since at least 1970.


The Packers played 3 of their 8 home games in Milwaukee up through 1994.
   10. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:06 PM (#6061761)
I'm not really sure what else you can ask.

You could ask that ownership stop fighting with the city, stop threatening to move, and stop telling fans how much the stadium sucks and how they shouldn't go there.
   11. jmurph Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:12 PM (#6061764)
I'm irrationally angry at everyone who took this seriously and discussed it like it could ever happen.
   12. Tony S Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:20 PM (#6061766)
#8 -- Pro sports franchises need identifiable stars. They need figures and personalities who can be associated with the team and its history. That's an integral part of a franchise's identity. You've got to have legends.

Tampa Bay has done everything right in terms of putting a consistently competitive product on the field. They're always in the hunt, remarkably so given the team's small fan base. But what plaques would you put in a Rays Hall of Fame? Evan Longoria; name another. David Price, I guess. Chris Archer? How many high-level players have there been who appear in Rays uniforms when they come to mind? Whose posters do 13-year-old Tampa kids have on their bedroom walls?

Throw in an unappealing stadium that's a major, major pain in the butt to access and egress, and Tampa's attendance problems make more sense. The other MLB team that operates in a similar fashion, the Oakland A's, also suffers subpar attendance despite largely successful teams.

Not that I can come up with a good way out of this. My guess is that a new ballpark, more central within the metro area, would probably be able to generate enough revenue that the team can win in a less clinical, more fan-friendly way.





   13. DL from MN Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:25 PM (#6061767)
what plaques would you put in a Rays Hall of Fame?


Kiermaier
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:31 PM (#6061768)
Whose posters do 13-year-old Tampa kids have on their bedroom walls?
Front-office centerfolds?
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:45 PM (#6061770)
I guess I still don't understand why Orlando isn't a more viable option? About the same size, more centrally located, could still draw fans from TAM/STP. I guess Mickey wouldn't like it?
   16. The Duke Posted: January 20, 2022 at 03:46 PM (#6061771)
What has obviously changed is the huge settlement paid by the NFL to St Louis. Leagues are probably now telling their teams that they can’t open the league up to litigation risk. These are different set of facts but the overall behavioral change will be to be more conservative. I assume we will hear next that the A’s are staying in Oakland where the fact pattern is more similar.

I’m also guessing the league is having outside counsel review all Emails/correspondence of these specific teams and maybe they found something that forced the league to pull the plug.
   17. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 20, 2022 at 05:25 PM (#6061777)
I'm with #11. I kind of thought it was a jokey type of back up plan to something more serious they had in mind, kind of on the level of, "hey, maybe we can play like 20 games in Montreal, that would be a hoot!"

Pro sports franchises need identifiable stars.


Well they've got one now. You may recall the 11 year contract they just gave Franco. Of course Franco will be A-rod level good and they'll trade him for like 5 good prospects in 7 years...
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 20, 2022 at 06:11 PM (#6061779)
The decision is sure to frustrate and stun team officials, who had spent 2 ½ years on the project and were expecting approval to proceed with efforts to get open-air stadiums built in both markets.

Is this all political posturing? Because two cities is a colossally stupid idea. The Rays can't convince one city to build them a stadium with someone else's money, so they think the solution is to convince two cities?

   19. Ron J Posted: January 20, 2022 at 06:15 PM (#6061780)
#18 Not happening in Montreal unless they start playing in skates.
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 20, 2022 at 07:03 PM (#6061785)
The Rays can't convince one city to build them a stadium with someone else's money, so they think the solution is to convince two cities?
I think idea was that if two cities had a chance at a franchise, one might be competitive enough to actually build a stadium. Perhaps not a great plan, but better than actually splitting the season. That was always a ruse, IMHO.
   21. kubiwan Posted: January 20, 2022 at 08:00 PM (#6061792)
Pro sports franchises need identifiable stars. They need figures and personalities who can be associated with the team and its history.

But what plaques would you put in a Rays Hall of Fame? How many high-level players have there been who appear in Rays uniforms when they come to mind? Whose posters do 13-year-old Tampa kids have on their bedroom walls?


I have historically agreed with the sentiments that the Rays lack stars, but having done a tiny of research I am now skeptical that the Rays are particularly deficient in this regard. What I did was simply look at the Top 12 players in franchise history by WAR and compared them to the Top 12 Diamondbacks since they were expansion brethren and thus have the same length of history (b-r makes this sort of comparison easy):

Rank Ray WAR Diamondback WAR
#1 - Longoria 51, Johnson 51
#2 - Crawford 36, Goldschmidt 40
#3 - Zobrist 35, Webb 31
#4 - Kiermeier 31, Gonzalez 30
#5 - Price 21, Schilling 25
#6 - Shields 20, Pollock 19
#7 - Pena 18, Finley 18
#8 - Kazmir 17, Greinke 18
#9 - Upton 16, Marte 15
#10 - Lugo 14, Haren 15
#11 - Jennings 13, Peralta 14
#12 - Huff 12, Young 14 


All in all, that looks pretty similar. I checked the next-youngest teams and FLA seems to have less star power and COL a bit more at the top, both of which fit my priors.
   22. I Knew A Guy Who Knew A Guy Who Knew Rey Ordonez Posted: January 21, 2022 at 03:16 PM (#6061857)
If they're really going to be shopping around partial seasons, that has to mean they're hell-bent on killing minor league baseball, right?
   23. Walt Davis Posted: January 21, 2022 at 03:45 PM (#6061868)
#22 ... not that I think it's a viable plan but I see it more as (a) an acknowledgment that it's really difficult to keep a small, crappy market like TB on a competitive level with teams in NY, LA, etc. under the current system but (b) there are no good alternative markets under the current system so (c) maybe if you add a market with 2 M people to one with 1.5 M people and one with 1 M people, maybe that can be like a market with 3.5 M people. But I don't think anybody actually believes (c). This still looks like an attempt, almost surely unsuccessful, to convince TB and Montreal that whoever built a stadium first would get the team.
   24. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 22, 2022 at 01:03 PM (#6062004)
Exactly, Walt. Billionaire Stu Sternberg who probably never worked a productive day in his life wants to pit two cities against each other. Then he'd give his oligarch's thumb down to whichever was slower to build and give him a new stadium. Poor Stu.
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 22, 2022 at 03:25 PM (#6062010)
To my mind it would make sense to distribute games across N. Florida -- Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, than between there and Montreal.
   26. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: January 22, 2022 at 04:40 PM (#6062017)
That makes sense to me. The Mariners play in a wealthy metro of about 4 million. If they could add Portland, a wealthy metro of about 2.5 million, by playing 10-15 games in the old Civic Stadium (yes, I know it's be reconfigured for soccer, but you know), suddenly they're on a financial par with the Giants.
   27. Jack Sommers Posted: January 23, 2022 at 04:03 PM (#6062123)
My dream:

Oakland gets Howard Terminal built, the Diamondbacks move to Las Vegas, and the Rays move to Arizona.

Either that or Mark Cuban buys the Diamondbacks.

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