Photo of the skyline in downtown Montreal, Quebec.

The Tampa Bay Rays organization announced last week that they are considering playing part of their regular season home games in Montreal, Quebec. Montreal been home to professional baseball since the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington D.C. in 2005 and became the Washington Nationals. However, a group of investors are attempting to bring professional baseball back to Montreal. The group is led by Stephen Bronfman, son of Charles Bronfman, former owner of the Montreal Expos. Securing the Tampa Bay Rays for part of the season would all but guarantee the club’s eventual departure from St. Petersburg, Florida.

Splitting regular season games in two different cities isn’t as strange as one might think. The New York Islanders are splitting their home games between Nassau Veterans Coliseum on Long Island and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The New Orleans Pelicans formerly split their home games between both New Orleans, Louisiana and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The old Kansas City - Omaha Kings once called the two cities home before relocating to Sacramento, California. NFL teams have even experimented with playing home games in England and Canada. The Tampa Bay Rays have been attempting for the last several years to secure the funding needed to build a new home stadium. However, their attempts have been unsuccessful and they’re starting to feel the pressure from Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball.

Under the proposed plan with Montreal, the Tampa Bay Rays would play the first half of the season’s home games at Tropicana Field and the second half in Montreal. There is also a proposed plan to build a new professional baseball stadium in Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood. While Olympic Stadium, former home of the Montreal Expos still stands, the venue is in no condition to host Major League Baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays would be greatly impacted with professional baseball moving to Montreal. As it stands, the Blue Jays are the only professional baseball team in Canada and have a vast territory. A team splitting their home games between two cities would also put a burden on players, staff, and their families. Don’t expect them to be completely on board with this idea.

The Tampa Bay Rays lease with Tropicana Field will expire in 2027. The Tampa Bay Rays are currently 2nd worst in Major League Baseball attendance with the Miami Marlins holding the top spot. The Tampa Bay Rays also have the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball leaving the team with no chance to compete in the talented American League East. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that Montreal will be unable to secure an expansion team until the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics stadium situations are resolved. Like the Tampa Bay Rays, the Oakland Athletics have been attempting to build a new home stadium in the Bay Area. However, they have been unable to both secure funding and have had a lot of hoops to jump through in choosing a site to build on. Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee have also expressed interest in landing a Major League Baseball team in the near future.

 

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