Rays owner says shared season with Montreal is best option

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The principal owner of the Rays says it's unrealistic for his team to play full time in the Tampa Bay area, and a shared season with Montreal is the best option.

"I don't see it happening in St. Petersburg and would be hard-pressed to see it working in Tampa from what I know," Stu Sternberg said at a news conference Tuesday. "This is not a staged exit. This is about Tampa Bay keeping its hometown team and Montreal having one, too. I believe strongly in the sister-city concept. We're asking for open minds."

Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week the Rays have "broad permission to explore what's available." Tampa Bay is averaging 14,546 fans a game, lowest in the American League and well below the MLB average of 27,360. Only the Miami Marlins draw worse at 9,378.

"We are at or near the bottom in every economic category in Major League Baseball," Sternberg said in his remarks at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

An agreement between the Rays and St. Petersburg for Tropicana Field runs through 2027. St. Petersburg's mayor has shot down the two-city possibility.