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Rays say split-season plan with Montreal rejected by MLB

The Houston Astros play the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game at...
The Houston Astros play the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., Aug. 29, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays’ proposed plan to split the season between Florida and Montreal has been rejected by Major League Baseball. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced the news on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File(Associated Press)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 2:47 PM EST
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays’ proposed plan to split the season between Florida and Montreal has been rejected by Major League Baseball.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced the news on Thursday.

“Today’s news is flat-out deflating,” Sternberg said.

The idea of playing in both the Tampa Bay area and Montreal has been discussed over the past several years after attempts to build a new full-time ballpark locally failed.

Montreal had a big league team from 1969, when the expansion Expos began play, through 2004. The Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals in 2005.

The Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season.

Since Sternberg took control in October 2005, the once-struggling franchise has been a success on the field but not at the box office.

Despite reaching the World Series in 2008 and 2020, the Rays have annually ranked near the bottom in attendance. The Rays averaged about 9,500 for home games last season, 28th in the majors and ahead of only Miami and Oakland.

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