As if the news for Rays fans couldn’t get any worse. First, Andrew Friedman leaves the franchise to join the Dodgers. On Friday, Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Rays to seek new employment elsewhere.
Now, it seems as if Stu Sternberg might be examining his options with the future of where the Rays might play.
At the bottom of a piece in the New York Daily News on Maddon’s departure, sources reveal to the Daily News that Sternberg has discussed moving the Rays to Montreal.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg has been frustrated in his efforts to get out of Tropicana Field in St. Pete and move to a new stadium in Tampa, but there 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.
The initial reaction to the exits of both Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon had to consist of what might be the future of the Rays on the field and in the Tampa Bay area. Trust in Stu Sternberg has dwindled each year, and the Rays have failed in their attempts to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area.
It is possible that this news is just another scare tactic by Sternberg to accelerate the process of a new stadium, but my biggest concern is that these rumors are true and that leaving the Tampa Bay area has become a legit possibility for the Rays owner.