- The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten permission from MLB to explore splitting their season between Tampa Bay and Montreal.
- The scenario would allow the Rays to expand their fan base while bringing in corporate money in Montreal, something that is lacking in Tampa Bay.
- The scenario faces major hurdles and questions, according to the report.
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The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten permission from MLB to explore a scenario where they’d split their season between Tampa Bay, Florida, and Montreal, Canada, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
In the scenario, the Rays would spend the first half of the season in Tampa Bay, then play the latter half in Montreal. According to Passan, it’s not yet clear how many home games each city would get.
According to Passan, the idea of a professional sports team playing in two cities isn’t entirely new – the Montreal Expos played 22 games in Puerto Rico in 2005, and the Kings played in Kansas City and Omaha in the 1970s.
The Rays are currently ranked second-to-last in attendance. The move would expand the Rays’ fanbase and allow the team to add corporate revenue in Montreal that is currently missing in Tampa Bay, according to Passan.
Passan also wrote that the Rays would need new stadiums in both cities, though playing the early portion of the season in Tampa Bay negates the need for a roof, cutting costs.
However, according to Passan, there are major hurdles (and questions) involved in the process.
Teams sometimes struggle to get funding for one stadium, let alone two. Would taxpayers burden the cost for half-a-season of games?
Which city would get playoff games? While the Rays wouldn’t need a roof in Tampa Bay, according to Weather.com, temperatures in Montreal in October 2018 ranged from 39 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning the weather for October baseball would be a bit unpredictable.
Would players have to find places to live in both countries? Would splitting a season of games affect stadium employees?
As FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver pointed out, there aren’t currently direct flights from Tampa Bay to Montreal.
There aren't even any direct flights between Tampa and Montreal. pic.twitter.com/thOMvcQrew
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) June 20, 2019
Passan wrote that it is too early in the process to answer big questions. Such a radical move may take years to go through, if it passes at all.
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