St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman says talks are over between the city and the Tampa Bay Rays about the team splitting home games with another location before their lease at Tropicana Field expires at the end of 2027.
"Both parties have agreed that the best path forward is to abide by the existing use agreement with the understanding that the agreement allows for the Rays organization to explore post-2027 split or full-season opportunities, both in St. Petersburg and elsewhere," Kriseman wrote in a memo to the city council.
Kriseman also noted the Rays will not be pursuing future stadium options in the Tampa Bay area.
"Please also know that team officials have declined my offer, made in the spirit of regionalism, to renew the recent memorandum of understanding that had allowed the Rays to explore 'full-time' stadium locations through the Tampa Bay regions, including Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa," he added.
Major League Baseball gave the Rays permission in June to explore the idea of splitting home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal due to continuing attendance issues. However, Kriseman and league commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time that the team needed to honor the lease agreement.
Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg said previously that he could see the plan coming into effect as early as 2024, according to ESPN.
"We agree generally with Mayor Kriseman's characterization of our months of conversations, though we would like to clarify two points," Sternberg said in a statement. "First, we do not agree that this is the best path forward. Second, we asked for the opportunity to explore this concept with both St. Petersburg and Montreal, and with Tampa and Montreal.
"We recognize that we must now consider our post-2027 options and all that entails, and we remain steadfast in our belief that the sister city concept is deserving of serious consideration."
Stephen Bronfman, son of former Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman and leader of the group working to bring the Rays to Quebec, isn't prepared to give up on the idea yet, either.
"We remain steadfastly committed to the sister city concept with the Tampa Bay Rays and its realization in as timely a fashion as possible," Bronfman said in a statement to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. "Our group continues to be excited by the proposed innovative concept. We will have no further comment at this time."
Montreal hasn't hosted a major-league team since the Expos left for Washington after the 2004 season, although the Toronto Blue Jays have played exhibition games at Olympic Stadium over the last several years.