TAMPA, Fla. — "I'm sure you can imagine a number of people who said to me, 'We would buy season tickets for my family going to North Carolina or Utah or Canada in July every year.'" said Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld last week at a speaking engagement in Tampa.
The team is still set on attempting to have a split-city team, sharing the club with Tampa Bay and Montreal. John Harrison Jr., a Rays season ticket holder and soon-to-be chair of St. Petersburg Young Professionals, says that this is a difficult conversation to have but one that he sees both sides of.
"The 2019 playoffs was fantastic. [Tropicana Field] was sold out. I think when it comes to the city of St. Pete, as a taxpayer, as a city, and it's not the worst thing in the world. Yeah, it's a tough conversation. I don't think you're going to find many Rays fans are excited about the idea," Harrison Jr. said.
A deep postseason run could change the outlook of where the Rays and the city stands on the future of the club.
"I think the Rays have done an awful job as far as getting the general fans or your baseball fans actually excited about the idea," Harrisons said.
"I think the on-field performance plays a key role to keep in mind. And, you know, you have this beautiful thing that's happening right now in Tampa Bay and Champa Bay. You don't want to lose it." Harrison said.
The Rays get their postseason run underway on Thursday.
However, it seems the talk of two cities will be held over the team long after the postseason is done.
Last month, after Tampa Bay clinched its second straight AL East title, team executives announced the organization would place a sign in the outfield of Tropicana Field promoting the Montreal Rays during the postseason.
Days after making those comments, Rays Principal Owner Stu Sternberg walked back those plans. The backlash the team faced caused Sternberg to apologize.
However, Sternberg still promoted the idea of the Rays starting their season in St. Petersburg before packing up and moving north of the border for the remainder of the year.