The Tampa Bay Rays appeared to be caught off guard this week when MLB’s Executive Council voted to end the team’s pursuit of splitting home games with the city of Montreal.
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced the change of approval from MLB in a somber press conference this afternoon.
Statement from the Tampa Bay Rays regarding Sister City Baseball plan: pic.twitter.com/N9tA1CTeED— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) January 20, 2022
During the press conference Sternberg compared the Sister City concept to other novel concepts the Rays have attempted, from shifting defensive positions on the field, to making Tropicana Field the first cashless stadium in professional sports, noting, “We don’t mind being first on things.”
In response to some tough questioning as to whether the club will now be up for sale or relocation, Sternberg relented that either option is finally on the table, saying, “you never know” and “never say never.”
I have never had an intention of selling the team. I do not forsee having an intention of selling the team. You never know what the future brings, but that hasn’t been my intention, and that’s the walk I’ve walked all this time.
And as far as relocation, it’s probably not served me incredibly well, but I have never threatened to move the team out of the region. That seems to be 101 in the playbook of getting stadia and arenas built — and I don’t criticize it — it’s just hasn’t been my way to this point, and people have advised me to do that.
And maybe I’m worse off not having that advice, but I think introducing that, you know, is just not necessarily practical, and it’s not necessarily fair to your fanbase, but I never say never; It’s not anything I’m thinking about.
- Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg
In a follow up podcast, Rays Presidents Brian Auld and Matt Silverman also declined to take relocation off the table in a discussion hosted by Neil Solondz. During the interview, Silverman put the deadline for finding a home in Tampa Bay at 18 to 24 months, while Auld summarized the Sister City as follows:
In retrospect, we know we put our fanbase through a lot, but we did it for reasons we believed in and for reasons that we thought were gonna propel the franchise forward and because we envisioned being successful.
- Rays President Brian Auld