ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - While the fate of the Tampa Bay Rays’ future remains uncertain, there is one well-known name in Orlando that wants the team to move there – and he’s not being shy about it.
Former co-owner of the Orlando Magic, Pat Williams, has a Christmas wish, and it’s to bring a Major League Baseball team to Central Florida. He told FOX 13 he wants to reach that goal either by moving a team or getting in line for an expansion.
“We’re doing everything we can to get ready and show Major League Baseball that this is the spot to put a new franchise,” Williams said.
He said he created a website called, Orlando Dreamers, last month. As of Monday, 11,000 people have indicated they would have an interest in season tickets at some point, Williams said.
“You’ve got to multiply that 11,000 by two for numbers of tickets -- that’s conservatively – 22,000 season tickets have been spoken for here,” he explained. “There’s definitely interest here. We feel very strongly that this can be an outstanding Major League Baseball franchise right here based in Orlando.”
Williams said he has had contact with the Rays. The St. Petersburg-based team has eight years left on its lease with Tropicana Field. Fans who have followed along with the saga know the owner, among other leaders within the team, have spoken openly about having a split-city team.
Earlier this month, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced talks to split the baseball season between St. Petersburg and Montreal were over. The mayor told FOX 13 that while St. Pete was open to funding a new stadium for the Rays, they would only do so if it was a full-time team.
“We will not contribute public dollars to construct a stadium for a part-time team,” Kriseman said at the time.
The following day after Kriseman’s announcement, Hillsborough County officials said they will prepare to resume conversations in bringing the team across the bay.
Williams said splitting a season with 41 games in one city and 41 games in another is a “wild idea.”
“Nobody in baseball seems very enthused about it except for the Rays and we’ll just have to see how it plays out, but in the meantime, over here, we’ve got to keep driving that season-ticket base,” he said. “When we get into 2020, we need to start thinking seriously about where this ballpark would be, where it would be located, and what it would look like.”
Williams’ chances of getting a major league team to Orlando could be slim. Florida already has two professional baseball teams, the Miami Marlins and the Rays. Both teams rank near the bottom of baseball in attendance, despite the Rays being a playoff team in 2019 and the Marlins having two World Series championships.
LINK: Learn more about the Orlando Dreamers’ initiative by clicking here.
FOX News contributed to this report