Speaking of hinting around, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned Montreal as a possible league expansion site this week, which got lots of still-bereft Expos fans excited. Sure, he mostly did so by listing all the things that have to happen before a new franchise could get bestowed upon the city, but that’s at least a start:
“There are two stadium situations, Tampa and Oakland, that need to be resolved before I believe the owners have any appetite for thinking about expansion,” Manfred said. “Hopefully, we’re going to make good progress on both of those stadium situations in the relatively short term.”…
“And then we would begin, first, with an internal debate as to whether baseball wants to go to 32 [teams],” Manfred said. “Assuming the owners make that decision, it would then begin the process of selecting two cities.
“I will say, in terms of schedule format, 32 teams is a nice number for us.”
That’s all pretty unremarkable — if we were going to expand, we’d have to talk about it first, and then we’d need to pick two cities — and Manfred has said this sort of thing before, and it leaves out the elephant in the room: Montreal would need a stadium for its team to play in, and somebody to pay for it. And Manfred also said this:
“Obviously with the way the economics operate in our game, that’s a very, very significant economic decision because it means that 1/30th owned assets and revenue streams become 1/32nd.”
Read between the lines, then, and it comes down to “Sure, Montreal sounds great, as soon as someone comes up with stadium cash and one of those crazy-high expansion fees that the NHL just got from Las Vegas, then we’ll be happy to listen, maybe.” Can’t get if you don’t ask, right?