Rays or no Rays: Montreal seems ready for a baseball team again

The Rays struck out when their plan for a stadium in Ybor City collapsed. Now they have a new one: Play half of their home games in Montreal, Quebec.

Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg's counterpart in Montreal is a businessman named Stephen Bronfman, whose father was a majority owner of the Montreal Expos for over two decades.

"Based on the people I've spoken to within his group, enthusiasm is very high," said Arpon Basu, the editor-in-chief for the Athletic in Montreal.

"The way they're looking at this is that it's a different way to look at what's maybe become an old model, and perhaps, an outdated model, and that maybe 81 games in one market, is not great for every market."

Sternberg says he met Bronfman two years ago when he was approached by him about an expansion franchise. 

"Bronfman had asked us about relocation, and I immediately shot that down," said Sternberg. "[We] talked about if the team would potentially be for sale, it didn't go any further than about 12 seconds after that as well." 

But then came the idea to share a single franchise. Bronfman has even found a site in downtown Montreal that could be used for a ballpark.

"They've started preliminary designs, they did an extensive survey of potential season ticket holders to ask what they would want in a stadium," said Basu. "They have acquired, or are on the verge of acquiring, the piece of land that they will develop regardless." 

There have been limited discussions with the city of Montreal, or Quebec. Sternberg said today that how the two stadiums would be financed hasn't been discussed either. The plan is still one very much in the making. 

"Even though it seems like a long shot to everybody, we really do feel great about it, and we think it can get done," added Sternberg.