The Tampa Bay Rays have always been a team that seems bound for relocation. Now, Major League Baseball has given them permission to test the waters.
A new report from ESPN says the Tampa Bay Rays are floating the idea of being a two city team. This isn’t the type of two cities that are close together, like say Tampa and St. Petersburg. No, the Rays are floating the idea of splitting their home games between St. Pete and Montreal, cities that are 1,300 miles apart.
If a Rays fans wants to take a trip to Montreal to catch a game, it takes about 23 hours without traffic to drive from Florida to Canada. So, that makes sense.
There’s a lot of this idea that is extremely flawed at this point. What would we call this team? Are they the Tampa Bay/Montreal Rays? Would we be looking to bring back the Expos moniker similar to what Winnipeg did with the Jets in hockey? What about mixing the two names together. Let’s just call them the Ex-Rays. They can have an X-ray tech as their mascot, running around overcharging for taking pictures. Want to take a picture with the mascot? That’ll be 400 bucks.
The biggest issue with the Rays is fans have trouble getting to Tropicana Field (which is also a very, very bad stadium). So of course, the best correction for that is play half the games even further away. Ever wonder the reason why the New York Yankees can make Tampa work easily but the Rays struggle to fill the stadium? It’s because the Yankees play on the right side of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The Rays look like they have all the makings of a playoff team. In this scenario, how would that work? Do they play one home game in the Tampa area, the next in Montreal, then go on the road? Do they just have to choose? The New York Islanders couldn’t make playing in two arenas work in hockey, and they were on the same island. The Rays want to split games between two countries.
The Rays already can’t get free agents to come. They are notoriously cheap, would rather go young than go established, and trade away the biggest names in franchise history as soon as they get too expensive. Now, they also want to add probably about 10,000 miles at least of travel to a player’s schedule? This is a disaster.
The Rays have “tried” and failed to build a stadium in Tampa. It looked like they were close, but then things fell apart in building it in the downtown area, and they re-upped with Tropicana Field until 2027. This apparent deal would be for after that, and would have to come with a stadium deal in the Tampa area. Why not just test the stadium in Tampa if that’s what the team wanted in the first place?
Then, the Rays would have to pay a lease on two stadiums. They need to hire two sets of full time workers. They’d have to pay double for the team jet’s fuel. There needs to be food service workers for both stadiums. They need to keep ticket takers and team store employed. This is literally going to cost double just in keeping it afloat. Who thought this was a good idea?
Fans of the Rays in Florida would basically be waiting for the team to move to Montreal for good. Fans in Montreal would fill the stadium at first because they would be happy with their new shiny toy. Then, the other fans will feel they’re being cheated, and treat them like Oakland is currently treating the Raiders. People will be more checked out than they are right now.
The Rays either have to make Tampa work, or move on entirely. There’s no point in dragging out a bad relationship if that’s what you think it is. This isn’t revolutionary like you think it is, this is just a bad idea.