ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- Any plans the Tampa Bay Rays had to try and move at least part of the baseball season north of the border have been snuffed out before they could get started.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman released a memo today saying that negotiations to allow the team to split time between the Tampa Bay region and the city of Montreal have ended, with both the city and the team agreeing "that the best path forward is to abide by the existing use agreement with the understanding that the agreement allows for the Rays Organization to explore post-2027 split or full-season opportunities, both in St. Petersburg and elsewhere."
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced back in June that the team looked to begin planning to split time between the Tampa Bay market and the city of Montreal, who has been without a Major League team since the Expos relocated to Washington, D.C. following the 2004 season, with the possibility of starting the time-share as early as 2024.
Mayor Kriseman also announced that during these current negotiations, an offer to renew the Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the team to negotiate with Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa for a new stadium was made to the team, but was turned down.
The current use agreement between the team and the City of St. Petersburg calls for the Rays to play all 81 home games at Tropicana Field through the end of the 2027 season.
"With only eight seasons remaining under the use agreement, the Rays will need to decide on their future soon," Kriseman said. "As it will take several seasons to finalize a future site and build a stadium either here in St. Petersburg or elsewhere."
The mayor has stated that while he is open to public funding toward a new baseball stadium, it would be with the understanding that the team remain in the city full-time, and that no funding would be available for any construction of a ballpark for a part-time team.
Read the full memo from the Mayor's Office below!
Sternberg released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that while the team agrees with the Mayor's statement about the negotiations, two points needed to be clarified.
"First, we do not agree that this is the best path forward," Sternberg's statement read. "Second, we asked for the opportunity to explore this concept with both St. Petersburg and Montreal, and with Tampa and Montreal.
We recognize that we must now consider our post-2027 options and all that entails, and we remain steadfast in our belief that the Sister City concept is deserving of serious consideration."
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