Rays Ownership Eyeing Ybor City For A Ballpark?

A split season home schedule would be unprecedented.

There is word that the Tampa Bay Rays’ Major League Baseball franchise ownership has found a place near Ybor City that appears to be a good location for a stadium. Rays ownership still has six years left on a lease to play in the St. Petersburg stadium that has hosted the team’s home games since 1998. What is a bit confusing is that Rays’ ownership and Major League Baseball has a Sister City plan that would see Montréal get half of the team’s home games starting in 2028. Montréal is in need of a stadium that could house 40 or 41 games annually. The Sister City plan would be unique in modern baseball history as no team has ever ventured down this road before, splitting a home schedule although the owners of the Chicago White Sox signed a deal with a local Milwaukee promoter named Bud Selig to stage games in Wisconsin in 1968 and in 1969. Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley tried to send a message to New York City politicians about his want for a new stadium by playing some home games in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1956 and 1957.

It was common in the early days of the National Basketball Association for teams to play some home games elsewhere as Boston Celtics games were played in Providence, Rhode Island and some Philadelphia Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers home contests took place in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The American Basketball Association had regional franchises in Virginia, North Carolina and in Florida but none of those regional franchises worked out. The National Football League’s Green Bay Packers franchise played home games in nearby Milwaukee annually between 1933 and 1994. The Sister City scheme will not be easy to pull off. Stadiums will need to be funded and then built. The players association also might just say no thanks.

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Ybor City might be in the running.