Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cafardo Suggests Rays Should Consider Relocating to Montreal

Boston Globe scribe Nick Cafardo, who is well-tied to both the Montreal and MLB communities, has long driven much of the Rays-to-Montreal hype.  Today, he adds more fuel to the fire:
When you think about it, such a move makes a lot of sense. The Montreal business climate is a lot different than it was when the Expos were there. The Montreal Baseball Project will meet with Major League Baseball soon to discuss a financial plan for a team and a new downtown stadium.

If Sternberg isn’t interested, he should be, though it appears in the next few weeks there might be optimism associated with the Rays at least being able to discuss a new stadium in Tampa, though who knows if even that would help.
With a new stadium, the Rays at least would tap into a corporate base where tickets would be eaten up by big companies, which would at least improve the sale of high-priced seats and suites. Maybe that would work, maybe it wouldn’t.
Montreal will host exhibition games before the start of the season for the second straight year to show the strength of its potential fan base. The Blue Jays and Reds will play after a Blue Jays-Red Sox possibility fell through. Last season for Blue Jays-Mets, Montreal drew more than 96,000 fans for two games at Olympic Stadium.
First of all, Cafardo probably overestimates to corporate base of Downtown Tampa, which would be stressed pretty thin if the Rays were introduced to a landscape that already features the Lightning and Bucs.  It's that very reason, I believe, that Jeff Vinik doesn't want baseball anywhere near his hockey team.

But it's also silly for Cafardo to suggest 96,000 fans for two games translates to regular-season sales.  I have no doubt Montreal would sell a ton of tickets to its initial season, as the Rays and Marlins did too.  However, the long-term stability in Montreal may not be any better than Tampa Bay's unless someone coughs up a half-billion dollars for a new stadium.

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