Tampa Bay Rays: Leaving Florida? Think Caribbean, not Canada

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 08: A general view of Tropicana Field during the National Anthem of Game Four of the American League Divisional Series between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays on October 7, 2019, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 08: A general view of Tropicana Field during the National Anthem of Game Four of the American League Divisional Series between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays on October 7, 2019, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP)
(Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP) /

Possible New Homes for the Tampa Bay Rays

Havana

Several dozen native Cubans will occupy places on Major League Baseball team rosters in 2020. You could fashion a plausible All-Star team around Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasmani Grandal, Yuli Gurriel, Yoan Moncada, Yasiel Puig, and Jorge Soler, all native Cubans.

Havana has a metropolitan population exceeding 2 million, probably slightly smaller than metro Tampa-St. Pete although specific regional figures are not calculated in Cuba.

Since the region’s attributes are so similar to those of other Caribbean locations such as Santo Domingo and Mexico City, let’s skip to the concerns. There is one obvious and potentially overriding one: politics.

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Since the establishment of the Castro government more than a half-century ago, operating anything in Cuba – including a baseball team – risks submitting to significant foreign governmental oversight. That oversight may have been reduced in the years since the death of Fidel Castro, but in recent years American business involvement in Cuba has actually waned.

There are potential risks from the United States government as well. The administration does not appear friendly to expanded American business activity in Cuba, and certainly few businesses come across as symbolically powerful as baseball.

So while there is substantial obvious interest in baseball across Cuba, playing regular games in Havana may be a hard sell both in Havana and Washington.