We might see Major League Baseball return to Montreal after all.
Though Rays aren’t necessarily indigenous north of the border.
Jeff Passan of ESPN reported on Thursday that Major League Baseball gave the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore becoming a two-city team.
They would play their home games during the first half of the season in the Tampa, FL area before going to Montreal to finish up the season. Both stadiums would be brand new.
It’s a desperate move by the organization to save the team and keep baseball in the Tampa area, even if it is on a limited basis.
The Rays have been unable to secure a new stadium, currently playing in the outdated and rundown Tropicana Field. Playing home games in Tampa early on in the season, however, would allow a new stadium to not need a dome. It would cut the cost and likely help the chances of area politicians on approving such a project.
Such an arrangement would provide a return of Major League Baseball to the city of Montreal, who had the Expos from 1969-2004. They moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Nationals in 2005.
Private-equity magnate Stephen Bronfman, the son of the Expos’ first owner, has recently expressed interest in buying a minority stake in the Rays, per Passan.
Despite being in the hunt throughout in the AL East during the first half of the season, the Rays have continued to struggle drawing in fans.
This season, the Rays’ home attendance of 14,546 is second-lowest in the majors. On May 29, they drew their smallest crowd ever of just 5,786.
Since 2011, their attendance has ranked within the bottom two of the majors every year.