Oct 8, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; A view of the field and the fans and the ballpark roof during the sixth inning between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox in game two of the 2021 ALDS at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After talks broke down between the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa area officials in 2018 over new stadium plans, the Major League Baseball franchise started working on a split-season plan in which they would play half of their home games in Tropicana Field and the other half in Montreal, Canada, former home of the Expos.

The idea was that considering the Rays were always near the bottom of the league in attendance and revenue, splitting their season would allow the franchise to maintain a connection to its home base while also generating more revenue through a new fanbase and media market.

However, there were significant stumbling blocks with the plan, including the need to get multiple stadiums built for the near future and how it would impact players to require housing in two separate countries, not to mention how it would impact their salaries.

MLB’s eight-member executive council gave them permission in 2019 to explore the split-city plan and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred even sounded optimistic about it in 2020, telling the Tampa Bay Times, “I am 100 percent convinced and, more importantly, the other owners have been convinced by Stu, that this is best way to keep Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay.”

Two and a half years later, however, MLB has killed the plan, according to the TB Times. The Rays are apparently shocked by the decision though the reason has not been made public yet.

The big question is, what will the Rays do now? Will they go back to Tampa officials yet another time to try to figure out a stadium deal, or will they ask MLB for permission to consider relocation altogether? The franchise’s lease agreement at Tropicana Field expires after the 2027 season, which means they’d probably need to have their plans for a new stadium in place no later than 2023 to give themselves enough time to have it approved and built by 2028.

While we wait on more details about the decision and what comes next, the reaction to the news was felt across many MLB corners.

[TB Times]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.