Rays Playoffs Could Be Muddied By Split Season With Montreal ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Hours before the Rays clinched the American League East division title Saturday, team President Matt Silverman said on a podcast that fans attending playoff games will see a sign in the stadium advertising the upcoming split season team leaders have planned with Montreal.
Little has been shared with the public this baseball season about a plan to have a split season with Montreal. Silverman said he wanted to keep the focus on the Rays games.
Talks two years ago about the Rays sharing the team with another city, including Montreal, were shelved, ESPN reported.
Also, fans and the media saw little of owner and former Wall Street investor Stuart Sternberg during the regular season. Shortly after the 2021 season began, the Tampa Bay Times reported on a lawsuit filed against Sternberg by minority owners who accused him of secretly negotiating a deal with Montreal. They alleged his talks began in 2014 with Canada.
“We are working away and making progress, both here and in Montreal,” Silverman told Neil Solondz on “This Week In Rays Baseball” podcast Saturday. “But you know this wonderful season has unfolded on the field, we wanted to be very considerate about making the focus about it, and not our ballpark efforts.”
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The Tampa Bay Times reported the plan calls for the Rays to hold spring training and play the first part of the regular season, likely into early June, in the Tampa/St. Pete area. Home games would then be played in Montreal for the rest of the season. Postseason games would likely be rotated by year.
He said in November the Rays organization will reveal more plans about the possible split season that will occur in 2028 after the Tropicana Field lease is up. They’re in a time-crunch, according to Silverman.
“I wanted to add for the postseason, we’re going to add a sign in the right-field foul territory with a very simple Tampa Bay/Montreal graphic. Especially with the eyes of baseball on us this October, we want that visible symbol of our plan and our excitement for it. It’ll mark the effort subtly and keep the focus on winning, and winning games in October and getting to that final game maybe, and winning at home in the first time in franchise history.”
Rays President Matt Silverman said the sign will be in the right-field foul territory.(Skyla Luckey/Patch)
A Patch reporter noticed from the Rays’ press box Saturday night a big empty space near where Silverman mentioned the sign will display. Right next to the Feeding Tampa Bay sign.
“It’s about a connection with Montreal that will only be added to our local economy in terms of jobs, tourism, commerce, and Montreal to us is the best city to partner with because of the weather patterns, the East Coast time zone. And you know Canada’s historic presence in tourism market and economic partner. Those things may not be a top priority for our fans, but it is very important to our elected officials who are getting behind us.”
Silverman said they believe in the sister plan and that Major League Baseball supports it fully. He believes this is the only way to keep baseball in Tampa Bay. Attendance to Rays’ games has been an ongoing problem for many years.
According to Steven Carney, a Rays reporter with St. Pete Nine, 1998 holds the record for most season total home game attendance at 2.5 million. Carney tweeted Sunday at the end of their final home game for the regular season game against the Marlins, 2021 total home game attendance is 761,072. Sunday’s game had 20,826 fans in the stadium. Monday, the Rays fly to Houston for a regular season game.
Rays start the postseason division series Thursday, Oct. 7. Tickets go on sale Thursday, Sept. 30.