[T]here is growing belief that the economically depressed Tampa Bay area won’t support the Rays no matter where they play. And according to sources, Sternberg has had discussions with wealthy Wall Street associates about moving the Rays to Montreal, which has been without a major-league franchise since the Expos were transferred to Washington in 2005. As one major-league official put it to me Friday: “Say what you will about Montreal, but the Expos drew well over two million fans four times there in their heyday, while the Rays did that only once, their first year.Of course, Jonah Keri, baseball's preeminent expert on both Expos and Rays' history, summed it up nicely:
Spokesman for Commissioner, whose job it is to scare taxpayers into building free stadiums, tries to scare taxpayers. http://t.co/wcq8gL94RUExpect a lot more talk of Montreal. Not because the Rays are in danger of leaving Tampa Bay anytime soon...but because Sternberg will attempt to strike while the iron is hot. It's one of MLB's Dirty Little Tricks.
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) October 25, 2014
The more fearmongering about the Rays moving to Montreal, the more willing Tampa Bay's elected officials will be to open up the tax coffers. And the departure of Joe Maddon & Andrew Friedman will serve to distract from the big-picture problems of an MLB system where revenue-sharing is shunned.
(hint: its working - local media fall for it every time)
Just remember, St. Pete currently has a ironclad contract with the team that prohibits it from leaving town before 2027.
Just remember, MLB owners don't typically get taxpayer handouts without creating leverage.
And just remember, no matter how hard MLB tries, an old stadium and small payroll still haven't stopped teams like the Rays, A's, and now Royals from having some pretty awesome seasons.
A brief history of Rays-to-Montreal rumors:
- July 2014 - Selig says Montreal an "excellent candidate" to land team
- May 2014 - Gammons invokes Montreal boogeyman
- Mar 2014 - National writers discuss Montreal's viability
- Dec 2013 - Henderson calls Montreal a "boogeyman"
- Dec 2013 - Study shows fans would actually attend games in Montreal this time
- Nov 2013 - Olbermann again suggests Rays should move to Montreal
- Oct 2013 - Cafardo calls Montreal a "viable option" for Rays
- Sep 2013 - Montreal, Like Tampa, Wants Baseball...and Has No Idea How to Pay for It
- Jun 2013 - Sternberg believes in Tampa Bay...and Montreal
- Apr 2013 - Cafardo says Montreal businessmen gaining credibility
- Nov 2012 - Olbermann suggests Rays could move to Montreal