The Rays are back at the Trop, starting a 10-game homestand.
Friday’s game: the first since Tuesday’s bombshell announcement, team management is considering a proposal to play half of future home games, in Montreal.
Afternoon thunderstorms, pouring on Rays’ fans, reflect the reaction of many when asked about the proposed Tampa Bay-Montreal baseball connection.
“I believe it will deplete the limited fan base you already have. I believe it will turn a lot more people away from the Tampa Bay Rays,” said Tim Linke.
On Tuesday, Rays’ principal owner, Stu Sternberg confirmed what many suspected: poor Rays’ attendance is putting a damper on team finances, so the team is exploring a marriage with Montreal.
Diane Weber doesn’t plan to make the trip up north to see the team if they move. But she understands the economics.
“People aren’t turning out so, they gotta do something, so I’ll take half a season over no season,” said Weber.
The Rays’ are giving fans a reason to show up, by discounting seats. A coupon from 7-11 got fans in for $7.11 Friday night.
And next week, thousands of seats go on sale for the bargain price of $2.
But that won’t solve long-term problems.
“If you have a good team and people aren’t showing up, you gotta do something to the equation to make ’em show up,” said Steve Drew.
There are many hurdles to cross before any move to Montreal becomes even a possibility.
“If you’re a player, are you gonna pack your family up in the middle of summer and move them to Montreal? And you’re gonna be up there when school starts?” asked Ron Rust.
Fans are happy the team is here for the homestand run, but there is an underlying concern, just how many more years that will be a reality.