Montreal

Lynn G. Henning, a writer who covers the Detroit Tigers had a conversation with somebody prior to the first game of this series against the Rays. That person thinks the Rays have already closed the door on the Tampa Bay area and will eventually move to Montreal.

The smart chronicler.

Your first question is probably, “who is the smart chronicler?” I think it is pretty obvious. There are only three people I can think of who would be considered “a smart chronicler of the Rays.” Two are beat reporters and a third wrote a book. The book author is not currently in the Bay Area.

The educated guess.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this is most likely just a hunch the writer has and is probably not based on any insider information.

That being said, there are reasons to be worried. This person is around the team as much as anybody and knows what has been reported and what has been said off the record. Having heard some of these things, I can say that there are indeed some skeptical people in the organization.

There has also been a lot of nothing in the last year or two when it comes to a new stadium. When was the last time we heard anything that was constructive or positive or suggested a new stadium is coming? In other words, there are reasons that this person’s hunch is more like a very educated guess.

The Mistress.

Even if there is nothing to this story, this is not the last time we are going to hear that the Rays are “threatening” or “leaning towards” or “open to the idea of” moving to Montreal.

Every new-stadium story comes with a mistress. Montreal is going to be the Rays’ mistress, whether the team divorces the area or not.

Just like how the Tampa-St. Pete area was the mistress to help several other teams get their new stadiums (e.g. Giants, White Sox), the Rays now have Montreal. It is not fair to the people of the Bay Area and it is not fair to the people of Montreal. But this is how rich teams get new stadiums without having to pay for it.

The reason for hope.

Remember, the Rays have a stadium they don’t want and an average attendance that is last in baseball. But they also have good television ratings and Major League Baseball is not going to want to abandon this market, at least not long-term.

So either MLB finds a way to keep the Rays in the area or the Rays are going to move. If the Rays move, MLB will find a way back into either this market or possibly Orlando, although the latter seems highly unlikely. And keep in mind, a new team won’t have a contract with the city of St. Pete to worry about.

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21 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Jonah Keri is from Montreal and has made a nice living wirting two books -- the Extra 2% valentine to Stu and his Montreal Expos retrospective. He probably does think they are moving to Montreal. If I were him and with a connection to ownership and not to the Bay Area, I'd start floating that idea. Olbermann has also said the same garbage.

    They are going nowhere for the next 13 years. Get used to it.

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  2. Carey says:

    Who can blame them. I mean, it's only been 6 years since the talk started and there has be absolutely zero movement with regards to a new stadium. Not even looking at sites. Zero! NOTHING!

    I've said for a couple years now that Orlando is probably our only hope. This area is so mired in provincialism that I have little hope anything will happen. Orlando is the exact opposite. The smaller towns/cities allow the big boy (Orlando) to carry the ball instead of sniping and griping and that's why they get stuff done where we mire ourselves in provincial backbiting. Check back in 10-20 years when they pass Tampa Bay and become the larger and more vibrant market.

    And this from someone who wouldn't live in Orlando if you doubled my pay (Landlocked, hotter than Hades, breeze-less and worst traffic in Florida). But, for all the negatives, they "get is" as a community.

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    • Gus says:

      No TV sets in Orlando. Baseball stadiums are just glorified TV studios.

      In 1990 expansion derby, Pat Williams said they exact same things about Orlando being the bigger market eventually; never has happened 25 years later.

      They have a deal until 2028. That is where they will be unless they want a deal in Pinellas.

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      • Carey says:

        We'll see Gus. Hope you're right, but I don't have a lot of faith. I find the lack of progress beyond absurd. And trust me, that lease isn't going to stop them. Not to mention, the leverage it gives gets weaker every year.

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        • Carey says:

          And they would get our TV's as well as Orlando. In fact, our biggest friend in this respect might be the Marlins.

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          • Carey says:

            Nearly double the growth in last decade.

            http://www.newgeography.com/content/003569-americas-fastest-and-slowest-growing-cities

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          • Gus says:

            Orlando had 20 years of sprawl and it is still only the 19th largest market. Tampa Bay is 13th. No way you move bigger to smaller. The Rays could move when the lease expires in 2028, but it would only be to a market where they can make better TV money.

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        • Gus says:

          If the lease isn't an impediment and "won't stop them", then why the hell haven't they moved years ago? Only two plausible answers: (1) they are making a nice safe return on their investment and know they can't break the lease or (2) it is not up to Stu to move them (remember, he still has limited partners (they usually come up when it comes time to set the budget and he blames them for being umwilling to expand the budget, which may be true); you think Vince Naimoli wants to own a team in Canada (or Orlando)? He does not.

          If they really want to move, they'll need a hurricane to damage the stadium so severely that they can escape the lease (and even then, not a sure thing).

          For 6 years I have tried to reassure Rays Index readers they are not going anywhere until the lease is up and this talk (contraction, Orlando, Montreal) is just bs. I have no first-hand knowledge (except of the lease, which I have read as a public document), just a student of business and sports history. But I still feel as strongly today as I did in 2008 on this topic. They will play the next decade at the Trop. It is their best business model -- low overhead, guaranteed profitability, forced austerity (in the public's mind) meaning they can be ruthless with players approaching free agency in a great TV market with good TV ratings.

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      • Ted Sheckler says:

        Exactly. TV is where the money is and the Rays are up for a new local deal soon. I'll start worrying if the TV ratings drop near the bottom of the league before their next deal is up, which won't be until the lease in St. Pete is about to expire. If they don't have a new stadium by then, and the TV ratings are down, I could see them leaving. But it would be a shocker if they left a market with above average TV ratings.

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    • Joe Dunn says:

      Orlando is full of people that work in bars, tourist traps and restaurants/hotels. NOT a good market. Nope

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      • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

        All of the professions that you just listed work into the night and therefore have employees who will not attend regularly or have the funds to be season-ticket holders...

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  3. Carey says:

    Again, I hope you guys are right. FWIW, Orlando hasn't been mentioned nor have they indicated any interest or desire to build a stadium. But if the current state of stasis leads them to consider alternatives, I'm rooting for Orlando over Montreal.

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  4. Dave L says:

    Non!

    Sacre Bleu!

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  5. Berdj J Rassam says:

    That would be too funny to see the Rays move to Montreal - if they do, they will be back in the US.

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  6. Old bob says:

    Gus. Isn't the lease buyout clause the key? At some point it may become reasonable for a new owner.

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    • Gus says:

      There is no buy out clause in the lease. This is false. It is what is known as a "specific perfromance" contract -- so long as the Rays play baseball, it must be at Trop through 2028 (might effectively end after the 2027 season). Mr. Kalt kept perpetuating the notion (repeated by the dummies at the Times) that there was some buyout. There is not. What is the value to the City to the Rays playing baseball in the City? The Agreement doesn't put a damages clause for that. Good luck getting a Florida judge to allow a move (unless the City capitulates, which it is hard to see doing).

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  7. Paco says:

    Montreal? Right. Anyone who thinks that hasn't seen this:

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/montattn.shtml

    If the Rays owners are sincerely considering such an idea, they're not as smart as I assumed.

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  8. Geoff Peterson says:

    If MLB or their little minions/chroniclers want to shovel this horse manure, they should at least use a city that hasn't failed miserably with baseball recently. Maybe Portland, New Orleans or Oklahoma City might be more believable. Canada can barely support their own hockey teams, let alone an "American" sport.

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  9. MC says:

    Has anyone noticed the source is a Detroit writer? Go back to that flaming dump of a city and stop making up stories

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