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Odds Against Rays Playing Any Regular Season Games in Montreal Before End of 2023 Season

Blake Snell
Blake Snell and the Rays could be moving north to Montreal. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)
  • Major League Baseball has given the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore the possibility of playing some regular-season games in Montreal
  • The Rays are 29th in MLB in attendance
  • The Montreal Expos played in the National League from 1969-2004

There’s a long-standing tradition in Montreal and across Quebec. When the weather turns cold, they head south to winter in Florida.

These folks are called snowbirds.

The Tampa Bay Rays want to reverse this process. Sagging at 29th in attendance, the Rays have been granted permission by MLB to explore the possibility of playing some regular-season games in Montreal.

Under the proposal, early-season games would be played in Tampa. The team would move to Montreal once the warmer weather reaches Canada.

We’re not sure what you’d call this plan, but many are labeling it dubious. Include sportsbooks in that group. They are offering odds against the Rays playing any games in Montreal before 2024.

Will the Tampa Bay Rays Play Any Games in Montreal Prior to End of 2023 MLB Season?

Will Rays Play in Montreal Prior to End of 2023 MLB Season? Odds
Yes +200
No -300

*All odds taken 06/21/19

The Montreal Expos were members of the National League from 1969-2004 before relocating to become the Washington Nationals.

Is it Blackmail?

The Rays currently sit 29th in MLB attendance, averaging 14,545 fans per game. Only the cross-state Miami Marlins (9,378) are worse.

Only 5,786 showed up for a May 28th game against the Toronto Blue Jays, a new Tropicana Field low.

The moment news of this proposal to play some games in Montreal went public, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman was quick to point out that the Rays’ lease at Tropicana Field runs through the end of the 2027 season.

Tampa Bay Rays Attendance from 2014-18

Season Average Attendance MLB Rank
2018 14,259 29th
2017 15,477 30th
2016 15,879 30th
2015 15,322 30th
2014 17,858 29th

It’s possible that all of this talk is merely subterfuge by the team in order to get the city to build a new stadium. The two sides have been butting heads over this matter for quite some time.

It’s Not Without Precedent

A team moving its home games to another city might not seem a viable long-range plan to endear yourself to your fanbase, but it’s been done before – by Montreal, in fact.

In 2003, the Expos shifted 22 home games to Puerto Rico.

Back in the 1950’s, with attendance sagging at Chicago Stadium, the woeful NHL Blackhawks relocated some home games to cities like St. Louis, Omaha, and Kansas City to gauge interest in hockey in those markets.

Montreal Isn’t Baseball Nirvana

The Expos weren’t exactly packing them in at Olympic Stadium when the club left for Washington. Montreal finished last in MLB attendance in each of its last five seasons.

Montreal Expos Attendance from 2000-04

Season Average Attendance MLB Rank
2004 9,369 30th
2003 12,662 30th
2002 10,025 30th
2001 7,935 30th
2000 11,435 30th

Montreal doesn’t have a viable stadium. The Rays are locked into a lease for the next eight years.

This looks to be a move based more in posturing than reality.

Tampa Bay won’t play any regular season games in Montreal by 2023. Or ever, for that matter.

Pick: No (-300)

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