The Baltimore Orioles currently play 9-10 games a year in Tampa/St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field. However that could be changing with the news today that MLB has given the Tampa Rays permission to explore the idea of playing half of their games in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and half in Montreal (Montreal of course being the former home of the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals). Again, they’be been given permission to “explore” the idea.
Basically that means we’ll think about it and get back to you. Tampa’s struggled with ticket sales and forming a fan base since the team’s inception. Heck, they had trouble selling out World Series games the year they advanced that far. So in that sense, might a more condensed schedule make sense?
Something like this has never really been done before in baseball – to my knowledge. Over in the NFL the Green Bay Packers used to play one preseason game and two regular season games annually at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. The Washington Bullets used to trek back to Baltimore for years and play four home games a year at the Baltimore Civic Center. And there are other examples out there as well which are similar to this.
But this wouldn’t be simply moving a home game or two. This would literally be two cities sharing a franchise. Perhaps the only example of which I can think would be the Homestead Gray’s, which was a Negro League baseball team that was shared between Washington D.C. and Homestead, FL. But that was short-lived. Needless to say, it would make for an interesting dynamic.
I believe that the idea would be for the early part of the season to take place in Tampa, where a new outdoor stadium would be constructed. The weather isn’t incredibly hot at that point in Tampa, so it wouldn’t be a big issue in terms of the weather. The second part of the season would be played in Montreal. However if this comes to pass it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled. Would Montreal have to build a new stadium also, or would the old Olympic Stadium suffice?
This is something that Orioles fans will want to watch, however. Earlier this season there were rumors that the league wanted the Orioles to leave Baltimore. How true that is or was, who knows? It was merely a report that surfaced.
Montreal was naturally one of the cities that was mentioned as a possible destination for the Orioles if they were to move. If Montreal gets a piece of the Tampa Rays, that’s one city that wouldn’t be in the running. My personal opinion is that the Orioles will never move anywhere. So take that point at nothing more than face value.
End of the day, I don’t think that the Tampa Rays will split themselves between two cities, either. I suspect it’s just positioning to get someone to build them a stadium. But it would be interesting to see in terms of the dynamic to say the least.