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Tampa Bay Rays get MLB OK to explore splitting home games with Montreal

The Rays were given permission Thursday to explore the possibility, though plan likely wouldn’t be implemented until 2023 or so.

Montreal Expos fans hold a sign after the team’s final home game ever against the Florida Marlins at Olympic Stadium September 29, 2004 in Montreal.
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The Tampa Bay Rays received permission from Major League Baseball’s executive council Thursday to explore playing splitting home games in the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, the team announced.

The Rays have embraced the two-city solution as the most feasible to saving baseball in the Tampa Bay area after years of failed attempts to build a new stadium in the region, ESPN reported.

The plan would face several significant hurdles before being implemented, likely not until 2023 or so, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The Rays have a deal to play all of their home games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg through 2027, so the city would need to OK a deal that would call for the Rays to play early-season games in St. Pete, then finish their home schedule in Montreal, former home of the Expos.

The players union would need to approve the deal because players would essentially have two in-season home bases during the season.

“My priority remains the same, I am committed to keeping baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come,’’ principal owner Stuart Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times. “I believe this concept is worthy of serious exploration.’’

Montreal lost the Expos after the 2004 season, when the team relocated to Washington and became the Nationals by 2005.