Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Sports

Baseball-MLB rejects Tampa Bay Rays’ split-city plan with Montreal

(Reuters) – The Tampa Bay Rays said on Thursday their proposed plan to split their home games between Florida and Montreal has been rejected by Major League Baseball’s executive council.

The Rays, who regularly rank near the bottom of attendance in MLB, were granted permission in 2019 to explore a two-city structure they felt was the most feasible for saving baseball in the Tampa Bay area.

Montreal has not had a MLB team since the Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals before the 2005 season.

“Today’s news that MLB’s executive council has rejected our Sister City plan is painful,” said Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg. “We had focused our full attention to that effort.”

Montreal was the first Canadian city to have a major league team, with the Expos calling the city home from 1969 until their relocation to Washington, by which time they were playing in front of very few fans in a cavernous Olympic Stadium.

According to a report on the Rays website, their proposal involved the construction of new ballparks in the Tampa Bay area and Montreal. The Rays would have spent Spring Training in Florida and divided their 81 regular-season home games evenly.

The Rays have been attempting to secure a new ballpark in the Tampa Bay area for nearly 15 years and their future is unclear beyond the expiration of their lease at Tropicana Field after the 2027 season.

“We know that questions about our future in Tampa Bay will continue to surface and there are no simple immediate answers,” said Sternberg.

“What we can provide is our continued pledge to field winning teams, to invest in our community and to contribute to Tampa Bay being a great place to call home.”

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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