Major League Baseball announced on Friday afternoon that next week’s Yankees-Rays series will be played at Citi Field in Queens — home of the Mets — because of Hurricane Irma.
The series was scheduled to be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, Monday through Wednesday.
Hurricane Irma is a dangerous and powerful Category 4 storm with 150-mph winds expected to hit Florida this weekend.
The Mets are on the road all of next week with stops in Chicago and Atlanta, making Citi Field available to host the Yankees-Rays series.
NYCFC has a game at Yankees Stadium late Saturday afternoon, and it takes 72 hours to resod the field for baseball. In addition, the Stadium will host a food convention and trade show Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It will be a little odd playing at a neutral site where it’s not anybody’s home field,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. “But obviously they’re games that we have to play and the season doesn’t wait around for anybody, so we have to figure out a way to play them.”
The Rays will be the home team for all three games. The Monday and Tuesday games will start at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday’s game will begin at 1:10 p.m.
MLB.com reported that Camden Yards in Baltimore and Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago also were considered as host sites. Baltimore and Chicago, however, lacked enough hotel rooms to accommodate the teams, according to MLB.com. With the series now being played in New York, only the Rays need hotel space.
The Yankees are in Texas playing the Rangers. The Rays are in Boston this weekend for a series with the Red Sox. “I’ve watched Weather.com more than I have any advanced report on the Red Sox or anything like that,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s a lot of concern.”
“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s easy travel for both teams. I believe they’re coming in from Boston. I know Tampa doesn’t want to lose home games, but I think there was some risk that we wouldn’t maybe play until Wednesday and then you’d have a doubleheader. I think baseball made a good decision.”
“I think it’s a good thing that we’ll be able to stay on schedule and play each day and not have to play a doubleheader or being in limbo and not really knowing where we’re going,” said CC Sabathia, who will start for the Yankees on Monday. “To have a spot to play is good.”
The Yankees played at Shea Stadium, then home of the Mets, in 1998 because of a beam collapse at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees played the entire 1974 and ’75 seasons at Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated.
The Astros and Rangers had their three-game series shifted from Houston to St. Petersburg late last month because of the catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The Astros played their first home game since Hurricane Harvey last Saturday against the Mets.
“We’d much rather be going to Tampa and playing there and not have to be dealing with a hurricane,” Gardner said. “I grew up in South Carolina near Charleston, so I know all about how scary it is to have hurricanes coming your way. I know that everybody in Florida, most people in Florida, are probably getting out of there. Everybody’s obviously concerned, so it’s just a bad situation and hopefully we’ll try to make the best of it and hopefully the storm takes it as easy on us as it can.”
Tickets for the series will go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mets.com/Irma, by phone at 718.507.TIXX or in person at the Citi Field box office. Field level reserved seating will be $25. There will be no fees on ticket purchases for the three-game series. Extremely limited parking will be available at Citi Field because of the set-up for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival. Fans are encouraged to take mass transit to get to the ballpark.
With Erik Boland
and The Associated Press