St. Pete, Rays end talks of sharing team's home slate with Montreal

The Rays and the city of St. Petersburg have broken off talks regarding the possibility of the team playing some home games in a location other than the Tampa Bay area, according to a letter released from the mayor's office Wednesday.

"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," Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote.

Kriseman also said the team declined to pursue "full-time" stadium options in the Tampa Bay area and that the city will not contribute public dollars toward a new stadium.

In June, the Rays received permission from Major League Baseball's executive council to explore a plan in which they would play home games in both the Tampa Bay area and Montreal. The Rays believed the two-city solution was the most feasible to save baseball in the Tampa Bay area after years of failed attempts to build a new stadium in the region, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan at the time.

Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg on Wednesday disagreed with Kriseman's assertion that it was "the best path forward."

"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 released by the team. "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."

Sternberg had said he envisioned the plan taking effect as soon as 2024.

The Rays' average attendance of 14,734 in 2019 was the second lowest in the majors, ahead of only the Miami Marlins.