Lynn G. Henning, a writer for The Detroit News, reported at the beginning of this series that he'd had an in-depth conversation with a presumably knowledgeable source that the Rays are on their way to Montreal.
This is a standard rumor for the Rays franchise. Complications of baseball's worst attendance and most chastised stadium, combined with two very limiting contracts in the lease on Tropicana Field and minimal television revenue, have made this a routine conversation. Purporting an actual source, however, is a new development.
Pre-game conversation with a smart chronicler of the Rays, who believes team is finished in this market and eventually headed to Montreal.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 20, 2014
The real question is who that source might be.
@TBBaseballMkt @travisreeder No, because he'll be expanding on this, publicly.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 20, 2014
We've already seen local investors circling the waters of downtown Tampa -- a group including Tampa Bay Lightning's owner and the guys who built Coors Field -- but if Sternberg is willing to keep his ownership and if he could find public financing for a stadium in downtown Montreal (a tall order), it's not an impossible thought.
In case you are wondering, it does not appear that author Jonah Keri is the source, considering he's likely at home watching the Simpsons (not kidding), and he's not been confirmed to be at the Trop this week for any pre-game conversations.
Keri went so far to call the threat of relocation disgusting this afternoon.
@m_weber @Lynn_Henning @TBBaseballMkt @travisreeder I would never wish for a city to lose its team. Not ever, not under any circumstances.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) August 21, 2014
As I have said before, and in direct disagreement with Henning, the Rays do not have a weak market as they face almost no competition for baseball, with excellent television ratings. Baseball is a television sport.
A far more likely team to move would be the Oakland Athletics, who have a far worse stadium than the Rays, and direct market competition with a massive franchise in the Giants, who surely would love to control the west coast, bay-area market.
It's all about the money, and if the television contract bubble doesn't pop before the Rays can land a new deal, I don't see this team going anywhere.