In a blow to principal proprietor Stuart Sternberg’s makes an attempt to safe a brand new ballpark in or across the metropolis of Tampa, the Main League Baseball Government Council formally quashed the Rays’ plans to separate time between Tampa and Montreal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Instances. MLB had given the Rays permission to discover the ’sister metropolis’ idea in 2019.
The choice places the Rays future within the Tampa Bay area very a lot unsure. As MLBTR explored final week, Tampa mayor Jane Castor expressed her dedication to holding the Rays within the space however provided solely certified help for a proposed $700MM open-air ballpark within the northeast Tampa neighborhood of Ybor Metropolis, stating that the neighborhood can be greatest served by holding the crew in Tampa whereas all however ruling out the opportunity of a big funding of public funds into the undertaking. The Rays had dedicated $350MM to the undertaking.
It’s presently unclear whether or not the Ybor Metropolis plan, which known as for the development of an analogous park in Montreal to host half the crew’s video games, is now successfully lifeless as nicely. Although uncommon, the plan was not unprecedented. In each 2003 and 2004, their closing two seasons earlier than relocating to Washington, D.C., the Expos performed 22 of their 81 residence video games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico whereas beneath the stewardship of Main League Baseball; the league purchased the crew from Jeffrey Loria (who subsequently bought the Marlins) forward of the 2003 season.
The Rays’ lease on Tropicana Discipline — an object of near-universal derision across the recreation — runs via 2027. It clearly isn’t but clear what would occur thereafter ought to the Rays fail to safe a brand new stadium, however a transfer to Nashville — the place a bunch calling itself Music Metropolis Baseball has tried to arrange each an possession group and neighborhood help for a possible big-league crew within the metropolis — could possibly be a completely dwell risk. Excessive-profile people related to the undertaking embody former United States Lawyer Normal Alberto Gonzales, former Titans working again Eddie George, and present White Sox supervisor Tony La Russa.
Although he made no specific commitments, Sternberg made his disappointment with the Government Council’s choice clear. When requested explicitly if he’d discover shifting the franchise out of the Tampa Bay area, Sternberg neither confirmed nor denied that such an thought had entered into his plans, stating that membership brass “will see how the stands look this yr…to assist inform us as we transfer ahead” however that that they had been “all-in on this plan” and had “fully pushed our chips in.”
The proprietor additionally made a bit of reports in disclosing that he’s aware about full-season proposals at present being put collectively by each the town of Tampa and Pinellas County (residence to St. Petersburg) however expressed doubts concerning the long-term viability of both (it isn’t clear if Tampa’s full-season proposal entails the identical Ybor Metropolis web site that the split-season proposal did).
Although he acknowledged that “the area is prepared to and in a position to and searching ahead to supporting us in each approach it could possibly” and that he was “actually going to be exploring issues within the Tampa Bay area,” he additionally expressed doubts that the area might “deal with 81 video games of baseball…that simply hasn’t occurred thus far.” Requested instantly if Tampa deserves a full-season baseball crew, Sternberg responded merely that it “deserves to have baseball.”
Most hanging, maybe, had been Sternberg’s feedback on the long-term viability of single-city groups, whilst he stands alone amongst house owners in main sports activities in proposing a split-city association. “Partial seasons are going to be the wave of the longer term in skilled sports activities,” he acknowledged, including that Montreal has “earned the best to have baseball again.”