clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

City of St. Petersburg: The Rays will not split their season with Montreal

New Memorandum answers three important questions about the Rays’ future, but raises many more.

MLB: OCT 08 ALDS - Astros at Rays Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has released a Memorandum to the public clarifying the current state of the Rays stadium saga, with three important messages, chief of which is that ownership’s proposal for a split season with Montreal is dead.

Here is the letter in full:

Here are the most important takeaways:

1. The Montreal Split-Season Proposal is dead (for now)

Last June, the principle owner of the Rays, Stuart Sternberg, made a public proposal for the Rays to split their season with the city of Montreal, a shocking turn of events both in substance and timing.

In issuing the above Memorandum, Mayor Kriseman is effectively killing the split city proposal after less than six months of negotiation with the team.

2. The Rays declined an opportunity to re-open an immediate ballpark search in Tampa Bay

Previously, the Rays had received long-sought permission to pursue a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area through a memorandum of understanding between the team and City of St. Petersburg. The search was limited to three years, and ended with the Rays selecting a location in Ybor City but without a deal in place.

Importantly, this MOU allowed the Rays to build a new stadium and break their lease with the City prior to its expiration in 2028.

Unfortunately, politicians in Hillsborough County, who had to operate on the Rays behalf due to restrictions in the “use agreement” for Tropicana Field (which functions as its lease), were unable to line up financial commitments, local business support, or even the purchase of the property itself.

The individual in charge of the County’s negotiations is now under investigation by the FBI over land deals, including his handling of the potential Rays stadium site.

3. The Rays will be allowed to search for a new ballpark in any location for the 2028 season

The current “use agreement” has language that appears to restrict the Rays from searching for a stadium location outside St. Petersburg, FL until the agreement expires in 2028, but Mayor Kriseman seems to be conveying that the City will not seek to enforce this language:

“Both parties have agreed that the best path forward is to abide by the existing use agreement with the understanding that the agreement allows for the Rays Organization to explore post-2027 split or full season opportunities, both in St. Petersburg and elsewhere.”

This may be the most important news of all. The Rays have consistently advocated for the freedom to explore stadium locations due to the several years it will require to build a new stadium in a new location. In other words, the Rays cannot reasonably wait until 2028 to begin a stadium project.

By not being restricted by the two counties and negotiation restrictions of the previous MOU, the Rays will now be able to leverage any city’s interest in having a baseball team — be that Tampa, Montreal, Brooklyn, Portland, or anywhere else — as they search for a new home for the 2028 season as they advocate for their own interests.