In 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East and AL Pennant.
Fans were either held to a limited capacity or not allowed to attend games as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, they won 100 games, and repeated as AL East Champions.
Even then, with star players such as Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco on their roster, the team ranked 28th in the league averaging under 10,000 fans per game.
Heading into the current offseason, Rays’ ownership was in search of a solution to improve attendance. Eventually, they settled on a plan t0 play half of their season’s home games in Montreal, Canada.
Yesterday, Jan. 20, the MLB rejected that idea and left the Rays scrambling to find a new solution.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg responded calling the leagues decision “flat-out deflating”.
While it has been more recently common in other leagues, an MLB team has not relocated since 2005 when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. That said, people around baseball have constantly been suggesting the Rays relocate and bring baseball back to Montreal. Even so, Sternberg has stated that moving would be unreasonable and unfair to the fan base.
Jokingly, many fans would ask the team to relocate to Tampa Bay. Currently, the Rays’ stadium is located in St. Petersburg. It is a massive inconvenience and aggravation for the teams supporters. Nonetheless, Sternberg has been adamant that the team has a future in Tampa.
Future in Tampa
The Rays have a home in Tampa Bay. They have an existing and loving fan base. Simply put, the issue is accessing and accommodating those fans.
As aforementioned, the teams stadium is located in St. Petersburg. It is one of the primary reasons Rays fans don’t attend games.
The attendance at Tropicana is never indicative of the support for the Rays. A passionate fanbase that can't get to games because of awful stadium location isn't indicative of a team's local support. https://t.co/lmwgt6SxPm
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) January 20, 2022
Still, Sternberg claims the Rays truly do want to remain in Tampa Bay.
Additionally, when discussing the possibility of building a new stadium, he stated the team is going to explore areas the Tampa Bay region while also monitoring the support they receive.
Moving forward, the Rays have many options on the table. They can stay in St. Petersburg, build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay region, or relocate. For now, the consideration and idea process will continue.