Expos fans should be filled with anticipation this fall as a deadline nears for the Tampa Bay Rays. The deadline in question is this one,
“Dec. 31 is the expiration date for the three-year window that the city of St. Petersburg gave the Tampa Bay Rays to explore their options in Tampa.”
And it’s one that many are pointing to as the deciding point for both the Rays and MLB. Although the Rays can ask for an extension to make a decision, the city of St Petersburg is under no obligation to allow for one to take place. They, after all, want to move on with plans of their own and make the best use of their lands and facilities – with or without the Rays.
How does Rays brass feel about the deadline?
“But on Tuesday, Rays president Brian Auld said there’s been no discussion of extending the deadline, nor does he see a reason to talk about it at the moment.
“We think that there’s enough time to get done what we need to get done between now and the end of the year,” Auld said after a Tampa Downtown Partnership panel discussion on sports in the bay area.
“In our conversations with the city and the county, and the folks working on the deal from their end, they have not asked or expressed a need for an extension,” he said, “so since we don’t see one on our end, I think we’re in good shape.””
There’s a lot of confidence in that exchange, and that points to Rays being in a strong position to make a call within the allotted timeframe – before Dec 31st, 2018.
And that where things get serious for Expos fans, because not only would a resolution on whether the Rays stay in the Tampa region resolve their location, but it likely points to expansion as the go-to option for MLB’s return to La Belle Province.
Expansion still wouldn’t occur until Oakland’s situation is resolved as well, They, it seems, are looking at all options including one that’s also popular with Tampa area residents
“Oaklanders even appear willing to let the the city lend a hand with the park’s infrastructure costs, so long as the money is repaid by taxes generated by the development.”
Use of taxes generated by development, and “Opportunity Zones”, may be the keys to financing initiatives in both Tampa and Oakland.
Once approved, and with MLB confident both situations are on solid footing, expansion to 32 teams is likely to be announced, and you can bet your last dollar that these guys – who enjoyed the 2018 World Series first hand – will be making a hard to resist bid for a franchise.
Nothing like a little World Series action with the boyz. Thanks @RedSox – we love you guys but Nos Amours are always on our mind. @mitchgarber – pass the peanuts. @Montreal_Expos @ExposNation pic.twitter.com/drYmNEH5Ku
— William Jegher (@wjegher) October 25, 2018
Now, we know most in Montreal – and majority of MLB fans – will be ecstatic to see the Expos return to MLB, but how happy do you think ex-Expos players would be?
Ask Bill “Spaceman” Lee!
What @BillSpacemanLee will do when the #Expos come back to #Montreal? pic.twitter.com/2Nu9sxzfvv
— MTL Loves Baseball (@MLB_MTL) October 30, 2018
Pay attention to Twitter over the next few weeks and to Rob Manfred’s comments on Oakland, Tampa, and expansion, because if my intuition is right he could be making a massive announcement as Montreal celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Expos this March, as noted below.
It's official! 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the inaugural season of the Montreal Expos and we are pleased to once again be working with Evenko to bring baseball back to the city for a weekend in March. It'll be a year of great memories and full of surprises. Stay tuned! https://t.co/FIIKhjFHvL
— Montréal Baseball Project⚾Projet Baseball Montréal (@MTLbbproject) October 15, 2018
That should be another fun series in Montreal when you consider that it once again brings Vladimir Guerrero Jr to the Big O and may include MVP candidate Christian Yelich on the other side as part of a 2018 playoff team still loaded with talent!
Worth the price of admission – and then some – regardless of whether the MLB Commissioner announces expansion plans or not.