Sep 29, 2021 - Sports
Sign or no sign, signs still point to Rays split
An illustration of a ray being split by a red dotted line
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg apologized to fans yesterday for "a big mistake" and said the team would not be debuting a Tampa Bay-Montreal Rays sign during the playoffs to promote the plan to split time between here and Canada.

Yes, but: The team still plans to split time between here and Canada.

Flashback: On Saturday, Rays president Matt Silverman said the Rays planned on unveiling a tandem-town sign at Tropicana Field during the MLB playoffs next week, per Axios' Jeff Tracy.

The big picture: The Rays, who despite perennial success regularly fail to draw big crowds, first mentioned the possibility of this in 2019.

  • The plan would involve each city building a new, open-air stadium to take advantage of the different climates.
  • They'd spend the spring and early summer in Florida before migrating north to Montreal sometime in June, per the Tampa Bay Times. Playoff games would rotate annually.

What they said: "We believe in our sister-city plan," Silverman said this weekend. "It's the best and possibly only chance for baseball to be here for generations."

  • The Rays' lease for the Trop expires in 2027, "so the time to solve this issue is now," said Silverman.

What they're saying now: Sternberg really beat himself up over it in a longwinded apology during the Rays pre-game radio show, but we’ll translate in Axios' Smart Brevity:

  • We wanted attention. We knew this would be controversial. It was. We're sorry.

Sternberg acknowledged the negative reaction from fans, saying there was "a lot written about it nationally, locally, in blogs and on sites."

Ben's thought bubble: It's the sacrifice fly of public relations.

What's next: An announcement about baseball's return to Montreal could reportedly be made after the city's municipal elections on Nov. 7 — four days after a potential Game 7 of the World Series.

  • And on Nov. 12, Rays President Brian Auld will discuss the team’s proposal at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.
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