MLB

Montreal businessman confident group will become Rays minority shareholder: report

A Montreal group headed by Stephen Bronfman reportedly is close to becoming minority shareholders in the Tampa Bay Rays. "The negotiations are very advanced," he tells Le Journal de Montréal. The Expos left Montreal after the 2004 season for Washington.

Negotiations 'very advanced,' Stephen Bronfman tells Le Journal de Montréal

Montreal businessman Stephen Bronfman says negotiations are 'very advanced' that would lead to his group becoming minority owners of the Tampa Bay Rays. In December, a potential return of Major League Baseball to Montreal was put on hold until at least 2028. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press/File)

A Montreal group headed by Stephen Bronfman reportedly is close to becoming minority shareholders in the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Over the next few months, maybe three or four without a doubt, our group in Montreal will become co-owners of the Tampa team with Stuart Sternberg, the current owner of the Rays," Bronfman said in a story published to the Le Journal de Montréal website on Saturday.

"The negotiations are very advanced. We're going to become minority shareholders, but that doesn't bother us at all. Stuart Sternberg is a straight-up man who's nothing like Jeffrey Loria [former owner of the Expos]."

Montreal has been without a big-league team since the Expos left after the 2004 season for Washington and became the Nationals.

Last fall, the Rays and Bronfman's group had been in discussions about a shared season, with the team playing half of its 81 home games in each location. 

But in early December, a potential return of Major League Baseball to Montreal was put on hold until at least 2028 after the mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., said negotiations to split Tampa Bay's home dates had ended.

Plans for 32,000-seat stadium

Meanwhile, Bronfman has been working to secure land to build a 32,000-seat stadium near a future Réseau express métropolitain (REM) station near the Bonaventure Expressway, north of the Peel Basin. 

"We don't want to create large parking lots because that creates heat islands. We have the opportunity to build a stadium and revamp a part of the city. If it's done well, it will be good for 100 years," Bronfman told CBC News in October.

"The REM service will act like the Metro at the Olympic Stadium. Cars won't be necessary with good planning." 

In June 2019, Sternberg envisioned open-air stadiums in both cities ready for use in the 2024 season.

Kriseman said the city would consider funding for a new stadium only for a full-time team in St. Petersburg.

The Rays have played at Tropicana Field since their inception in 1998 and had the second-lowest attendance in Major League Baseball this year, despite making the playoffs.

With files from The Canadian Press

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