ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Rays owner and St. Peterburg’s mayor are expected to discuss the team’s future in their first meeting since the team’s controversial two-city plan has been on the table.
The Rays want to split their season between Tampa Bay and Montreal, but there’s been push back locally.
Both sides are scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon.
There’s been tension for quite some time over what will happen to Tropicana Field and whether the city will allow the team to explore the idea of being a part-time team.
“This is not a page out of a playbook to gain leverage,” said team owner Stu Sternberg during a press conference last month. “We are focused on this plan. We are focused on how the Rays can thrive here in Tampa Bay. This is about Tampa Bay keeping its hometown team and Montreal having one as well.”
Sternberg said he’s trying to get creative and believes the split-city proposal is the best way to save baseball in Tampa Bay.
Low attendance has been an issue over the years. Sternberg said a large number of fans only come to one or two games a year.
Last month the Rays offered $5 tickets to five home games, but only two games sold out.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said this split-city plan is no home run.
“Ultimately such a decision is up to me and I have no intention of bringing this idea to our City Council to consider,” said Kriseman during a press conference last month.
Kriseman wants the Rays to stay in Tampa Bay, but not like this.
The mayor said the city will not help fund a new stadium for a part-time team.
Some fans are worried about whether the team will actually be able to survive if this idea becomes reality.
“We’re already struggling to sink roots here cause a lot of people come from all over the places, so it’s hard to have an allegiance with the team. But how are you going to build that if it’s divided between two different cities,” said fan Ryan Hansard.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for two hours at the temporary City Hall site in St. Petersburg.