Rays will stay in St. Petersburg….for now

On Wednesday afternoon, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman turned down the Tampa Bay Rays proposal to split the baseball season between St. Petersburg and Montreal.

This assures baseball fans in the region that baseball will be played at Tropicana field at least through the 2027 season. After that all bets are off.

Kriseman issued a statement to the City Council that said “Both parties have agreed that the best path forward is to abide by the existing use agreement. Should the Rays Organization wish to continue exploration of the shared season concept with Montreal, that exploration must be limited to the 2028 season and beyond.”

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg generally but left all options on the table after 2027.

“We agree generally with Mayor Kriseman’s characterization of our months of conversations, We do not agree that this is the best path forward.

“We recognize that we must now consider our post-2027 options and all that entails and we remain steadfast in our belief that the sister city concept is deserving of serious consideration.”

In speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, Rays executives Brian Auld and Matt Silverman said that they see the split season with Montreal as the only way that Major League Baseball will be played in the Tampa Bay region following the 2027 season.

Auld and Silverman also said that the Rays will not look to terminate the agreement with the City of St. Petersburg before the 2027 season.

Mayor Kriseman did say that the City of St. Petersburg would be open to exploring financing for a new stadium in St. Petersburg, but would not be willing to help finance a new stadium where the Rays would be only a part time tenant.

There are a number of cities that are actively trying to secure a Major League Baseball franchise for their city.

Las Vegas, Portland, Nashville, Charlotte, Montreal, Orlando, and Vancouver will all have the ear of Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and pitch him on why the Rays should make their city their new home.

The Rays are hoping to have plans in place by 2024 as to where the team will be making its home for the 2028 season.

The Rays turned down the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County’s offer to build a stadium in Ybor City in December of 2018.

It sounds as if the Rays have drawn that line in the sand and given the City of St. Petersburg a take it or leave it offer.

Rick Kriseman’s term as mayor will be up at the end of 2021, so it is possible that a new mayor would be open to sharing the Rays with Montreal.

Rays owner Sturt Sternberg has said in the past that Mayor Kriseman would not be mayor forever and they could negotiate with a new mayor in 2022.

The Tampa Bay Rays will be a hot topic for the next Mayor of St. Petersburg.

Three options are most likely to happen.

1. The Rays will leave the region for a new home at the end of 2027.

2. A new mayor will be open to an agreement to split the season with the City of Montreal.

3. The Rays come to an agreement with either the City of St. Petersburg or Hillsborough County on an agreement to build a new stadium that will be ready for the 2028 season.

While the Rays have trouble putting bodies in the seats at Tropicana Field, the TV ratings were up 33 percent this year as the Rays won 96 games before taking the Houston Astros to five games in the ALDS.