Rays owner says shared season with Montreal is best option

FILE - In this April 3, 2015, file photo, a fan holds up a sign during a pregame ceremony as the Toronto Blue Jays face the Cincinnati Reds in an exhibition baseball game in Montreal. The Tampa Bay Rays have received permission from Major League Baseball's executive council to explore a plan that could see the team split its home games between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Rays owner says shared season with Montreal is best option, and he asks for 'open minds'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The principal owner of the Rays says it's unrealistic for his team to play full time in the Tampa Bay area, and a shared season with Montreal is the best option.

Stu Sternberg said at a news conference Tuesday he would be "hard-pressed" for the team to stay exclusively in Tampa or St. Petersburg. He believes "strongly in the sister-city concept" with Montreal and is "asking for open minds."

Tampa Bay is averaging less than 15,000 fans a game. Commissioner Rob Manfred says the Rays have "broad permission to explore what's available."

An agreement between the Rays and St. Petersburg for Tropicana Field runs through 2027. St. Petersburg's mayor has shot down the two-city possibility.

The Expos left Montreal after the 2004 season and became the Washington Nationals.

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