The split-season plan that might've brought Major League Baseball back to Montreal was just thrown a major curveball.
The dream of a "sister city" baseball team shared by Montreal and Tampa Bay has officially been crushed by Major League Baseball's executive council.
The council rejected the plan on Thursday — around two-and-a-half years after giving the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore the idea in 2019.
The concept would have seen the Rays split their time between Tampa Bay and Montreal, which the Journal de Montréal described as a "marriage of the Expos and the Rays" with shared custody. The plan involved building two new stadiums — one in the Tampa Bay area and one in Montreal.
In September, Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman even announced that the Rays would be unveiling a "Tampa Bay-Montreal" graphic at Tropicana Field, the team's home stadium, to promote the project during the MLB playoffs. But he abruptly backtracked after facing backlash from fans.
In October, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation put up a giant billboard outside Tropicana Field warning that "Montréal won't pay for your new stadium."
The federation's Quebec director, Renaud Brossard, said in a statement, "the Rays are welcome to play in Montreal, but Quebec taxpayers aren't going to pay for a new stadium."
Updates on the "sister city" plan subsided in November when the Montreal Baseball Group, the folks behind the push to bring back a Montreal baseball team, said they wouldn't be making any more announcements about the baseball project any time soon.
“We must continue our approach with rigour until we are able to share a complete and inclusive vision that will elicit the support of the community,” said Stephen Bronfman, who has been leading the charge to bring Major League Baseball back to the city.
However, it now looks like Bronfman and his team will have to go a different route in order to give Montreal another chance at a baseball team.
"With the split-season plan no longer an option, the Rays’ future is unclear beyond the expiration of their use agreement at Tropicana Field following the 2027 season," said MLB's Adam Berry.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.