Major League Baseball has struck down the Tampa Bay Rays Montreal plan that would have seen the Florida franchise split time between playing its home games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and in Montreal, according to a report by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Frustrated by low attendance numbers and a stadium that quickly deteriorated toward the status of being one of the worst venues in all of Major League Baseball, the Rays had reportedly worked on this plan to bring baseball back to Montreal on a part-time basis for two-and-a-half years. Expectations were that MLB would approve the deal, ultimately paving the way for the Rays to build two open-air stadiums in Florida and Montreal.
The plan would have also brought baseball back to Montreal, which was home of the Expos from 1969-2004 before relocating to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals.
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The decision forces the Rays to once again search for a new stadium near the Tampa Bay area. Per Topkin, the franchise tried twice a decade apart — in 2008 and 2018 — to build a new home, but both were struck down.
It was after the latest failure that the idea of splitting time in Montreal became the leading option for the team.
Despite the Rays’ recent success of three consecutive playoff appearances, two straight AL East division titles, and an American League pennant in 2020, their annual home attendance has ranked within Major League Baseball’s bottom three every year since 2011.