It’s been over a decade since the city of Montreal lost its baseball team, the Montreal Expos. The team morphed into the Washington Nationals, and no team has called Montreal home since 2004. Ever since, people have been campaigning to bring baseball back to the home of MLB’s first international franchise. And one report says that it might actually happen.
The Canadian Press has reported that a group of investors in Montreal has met MLB conditions to bring baseball back to the city. That’s according to an anonymous source, who had even more information to give.
The source said the investors have a solid financial set-up, support from two levels of government, various potential locations for a stadium as well as at least five different designs for the venue.
The source also said that no location has been picked yet, but they want to make sure it’s close to public transit so it’s easy for fans to travel there. That’s in sharp contrast to the approach taken by the Atlanta Braves for their new stadium, SunTrust Park, which is far from public transit and almost comically inconvenient.
None of this has been confirmed by anyone, so we don’t even know if the Montreal team would be part of an expansion effort (and therefore a brand new team), or if another team might leave their city and move to Montreal. The Canadian Press says that the group of investors is “just waiting for a call from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to get the ball rolling.”
But that ball might not get rolling for awhile, and there may not even be a ball to begin with. Mitch Garber, chairman of Cirque du Soliel and part of a Montreal investment group, said in a radio interview on Wednesday that the report was exaggerated. Here’s what he said to TSN 690:
“[The article by The Canadian Press] is not true, but it’s not false,” Garber explained on Montreal’s TSN Radio 690. “Yes, there’s a group of wealthy Montrealers who have met and expressed a real interest in owning a Major League Baseball franchise in Montreal. And yes, the mayor of Montreal and (fellow businessman) Stephen Bronfman have publicly come out and said that they have talked to Major League Baseball about wanting to qualify to have a Major League Baseball team in Montreal.
“….But there is no agreement among government branches about how to finance a baseball team. There’s no five sites I’ve heard of for a Major League Baseball park. There’s no group of owners that wouldn’t welcome other owners into the group.”
That certainly throws cold water on the festivities.
Regardless of the state of the agreement (if there even is one), it will be awhile before baseball makes its way back to Montreal. Manfred has said that any talk of expansion would have to wait until the next collective bargaining agreement, which won’t happen until 2021. Additionally, before there’s talk of anything happening in Montreal, Manfred has said he wants to solve the stadium issues that the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays are experiencing. Both teams want (and need) new stadiums, but they’ve been having trouble actually getting them built.
As we’ve seen in the NFL, if a team can’t get a new stadium, relocation is always an option. If the Athletics or Rays can’t manage to get that new ballpark built, Montreal could be willing to greet them with open, stadium-filled arms.
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