Outgoing baseball commissioner Bud Selig said the Tampa Bay area has the demographics to succeed as a major-league market but reiterated the Rays’ need for a new ballpark.
However, after years of vocal disappointment from his office over low attendance and the need to replace Tropicana Field, Selig remarked Tuesday that he was leaving the stadium situation in the hands of Rays owner Stuart Sternberg.
Speaking to baseball writers before the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, Selig also lauded a pair of March exhibition games in Montreal, saying the Canadian city “would be an excellent candidate” for a team, according to several reporters at the gathering.
In March, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets drew about 96,000 total fans to Olympic Stadium. Selig called the exhibitions “very impressive” but added that Montreal had a lot of work to do on its stadium situation.
The Expos played in the Canadian city from 1969 to 2004 until failed attempts to replace Olympic Stadium led them to move to Washington, D.C.
Selig would not get into whether Montreal could be in the running for expansion or relocation. Both the Rays and Oakland Athletics have been mentioned as teams that could move should their stadium situations not improve.
Sternberg has said his team cannot sustain itself playing in Tropicana Field through the end of its contract in 2027 and is trying to negotiate with St. Petersburg so the team can look at sites around the Bay area.
Selig, 79, is retiring as commissioner at the end of this season. He said the issues in Tampa Bay and Oakland would likely not be addressed before he steps down.
“There are some problems that take longer to solve than others,” he said.