I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who was waiting on the Canadian federal government to step in and build a new baseball stadium to bring back the Montreal Expos, but if so, you can stop now:
In an interview with La Presse, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi said helping finance new arenas or stadiums for professional sports teams does not top the list of infrastructure needs. He said that any type of application for funding wouldn’t be accepted.
This isn’t real surprising — Canada’s federal government hasn’t funded many stadium projects — but with Quebec’s provincial government also expressing no interest in funding a ballpark, it’s going to leave boosters of Montreal baseball having to figure out how to build a stadium with private funds plus whatever it can shake loose from the city. That’s not necessarily impossible — if you cut out the bells and whistles and build something for $400 million or so, it just might be possible to turn the $25 million a year in profit needed to pay it off, especially with the revenue-sharing breaks offered by MLB for new stadiums. Still, when the Expos themselves tried it in the 1990s, it failed for lack of funding.
All this is assuming, of course, that anyone would want to plunk down $1 billion or so for an MLB franchise (existing or expansion) to play in Montreal, which has a large population and a strong baseball tradition but not exactly a long history of attendance success — and then dedicate any future profits to paying off a stadium. Of course, MLB franchises wouldn’t go for $1 billion if they weren’t so heavily subsidized via stadium deals in other cities … it’s tough to be Canada, is what I’m saying.