Sorry to stir the pot, but six lazy paragraphs on the viability of the Rays market has me worked up, which is probably wasted energy.
A.J. Mass of ESPN Insider's "Rumor Central" notes that Rays president Matt Silverman met with St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman on Friday (good) and then quotes a very basic line from the Tampa Tribune on the contract status of the Trop running though 2027, and how St. Pete hasn't really budged in negotiations (ok).
Mr. Mass then averages the Rays' first six games' attendance to 17,867 fans and notes how that is the lowest in MLB so far. If we're playing the small sample size game, I guess you should forget that the weekend series averaged 22,000+ fans, including what would have been the ninth largest crowd last year on Saturday night.
He then compares that to the Spring Training showcase in Montreal that drew 96,000 fans (good for them), and has an ah-ha moment, stating "there's no wonder that the idea of the Rays moving north of the border is starting to gain some traction."
It is? Where have you heard this, Rumor Central? Go on.
If the Rays can't make any headway in their current negotiations for a new stadium, and Montreal is able to find someone to fund one, perhaps a rebirth of the Expos might well end up coming to pass. For now, Silverman says there's a simple way for the Rays to stay where they are -- those attendance numbers have to rise.
"Our home is Tampa Bay and we're gonna make it work here and we appreciate every single fan who comes out and enjoys the game. If each fan came to one more game per year it would make a big difference and we wouldn't be having these conversations," Silverman says.
THEN THE ARTICLE ENDS.
Attendance. That's the discussion Mr. Mass wanted, but he had to slip in through under the attempted guile of Montreal and relocation. This article offered absolutely nothing in the way of viability of the market in Florida, nor offered any of the same information regarding Montreal.
Two things matter in baseball: ownership and television money. The Rays have strong ownership and place high in television rankings every year, large-in-part thanks to zero local competition. This argument would make far more sense if the Rays stadium was flooding with sewage, or if the television and media market was saturated with another successful franchise (like the Giants) but somehow it's the Rays getting the short end of the stick. And let's not forget a huge TV deal is likely on the way in a few short years.
Baseball in Stade Olympique was a nice one-off gesture, but they too would need a new ballpark to have anything better than what Oakland has now, and would also need strong ownership to step in. And if I'm reading the Jonah Keri tea leaves correctly, Montreal would likely be looking at another round of corporate ownership as well (Bell is the leading example), which has it's own complications.
This article added nothing to the conversation. I could not be more worked up at the national coverage for the Rays this week.
What would have been worthwhile was mentioning how Kriseman and the Rays have been proactive in repairing a broken relationship. That both sides described the meeting as "very productive." That both sides are working on building an air of confidentiality and trust.
That's progress across the Bay, not across the northern border.