MLB commissioner again says Montreal expansion possible, if they make it worth his while

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?


55 comments on “MLB commissioner again says Montreal expansion possible, if they make it worth his while

  1. Nothing new in those in those statements… Yes, Montreal needs to build a new baseball stadium – but they’ve already acknowledged that and have a plan lined up for it – including a site that the City has located made no secrets about it being the home for a new MLB stadium… Ownership group has been identified in theory (although no money down yet, so that may change)…

    Manfred needs to get his house in order as well – get the darn CBA done and for Pete’s sake (pun intended), get the Rays situation resolved! But, it is clear to all in MLB that the interest in Montreal as home to another team is definitely there again!

    • Given that the Rays’ lease runs until 2027, I wouldn’t count on that situation being resolved any time soon. They aren’t going to buy their way out of it, and St. Pete has no reason to help them. All MLB and the Rays will do for now is stomp their feet.

      • The value (tax and economic impact) to redevelop the Tropicana Field site if the Rays confirm that they don’t want to stay over there after 2027 is way higher than the value of keeping the Rays until 2027.

        Rays won’t need to ask to leave the Tropicana Field before 2027 in that situation, St-Pete will quickly be the ones asking such departure.

        • Say what you want but if the Rays don’t move to Charlotte, NC, they stay in St Pete and develop the Trop into a mall park similar to Atlanta’s strategy (as well as Anaheim’s & Arlington’s future plans). While I know we are last in attendance (mostly because Sternberg couldn’t market himself out of bag), we are the 11th largest media market in the US. MLB has done their best to sabotage St Pete from the very beginning of this franchise. As a lifetime resident the most onerous mistake was not putting Tampa Bay into the National League considering the Spring Training history of the Cardinals (50 years), Mets (25 yrs), Reds (27 yrs) and Pirates (47 yrs). The far more important issue to resolve, rather than shift the deck chairs on the Titantic (re: stadiums & franchises), is the perception that baseball is a slow and boring game with expensive ticket prices that prohibit a middle income family from attending more than a couple of games a season (pls don’t tell me that we have cheap tix because if you want to sit anywhere in the lower bowl it’ll set you back at least $35 – $75+ per for 90% of those avail seats. Yes, the top deck might be only $10 but there’s no concessions up there so it takes a patron about 20 min to make the round trip down to the concourse to buy drinks, food, etc. There’s better seating values for the Dodgers, Angels, White Sox, Cards etc than the Rays). But putting fans in the seats isn’t really a top priority for MLB. Remember that this is the League that actually raised ticket prices during the Great Depression and had their head handed to them by the NFL. MLB’s short sighted policies and greed will soon kill the chicken that laid their golden eggs. It won’t really matter if baseball expands or moves to Montreal, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Portland, Charlotte, et al because the only winner will be MLB. Never bet against the house… so hold onto your wallet.

  2. One of the Montreal investor just wrote a check of $100M to the governments for his income tax in 2016 after closing a deal ($4.4B USD by selling Playtika). That’s a very good starting point t bring back MLB in Montreal and build a stadium.

    http://business.financialpost.com/news/how-mitch-garber-helped-saved-caesars-entertainment-from-ruin

    And the preferred stadium funding approach is this one from Dominic Therrien.

    http://www.millerthomson.com/assets/files/AnalyseState_EN.pdf

    Stay Tuned, Goose Village site is almost ready with the REM Bridge-Wellington station!

    • I’m not really sure that just because Garber has to pay $100m in income taxes that he’d voluntarily pay another $100m toward a stadium. Not that $100m would get you that far.

      The Thierren proposal is, um, interesting, to say the least: Have the Quebec government do a sort of Canadian EB-5 program by selling immigration status to 1,860 foreigners who are willing to put up $275,000 apiece. There are a huge number of red flags here — can they find enough people eager to take this deal, would it let them cut in line ahead of regular applicants, if you’re going to start selling immigrant visas shouldn’t you consider using the proceeds for something other than a private baseball stadium — but I guess it’s better than just Montreal general funds, maybe? Or at least more confusing to the public.

      • Immigrant-investors program already exist in Canada for years. Only a fraction of the immigrants are selected each year (it’s a random draw). 3600 are refused each year. So based on Dominic Therrien proposal (he’s a lawyer in immigration), there would be no problem fulfilling the number of immigrants required each year.

        http://blogues.radio-canada.ca/bloguesportif/2014/03/31/construire-un-stade-de-500-millions-sans-le-payer-cest-possible/

        • The current immigrant-investor program just requires an $800,000 interest-free loan for eight years. This would be $275,000 in cash that the “investors” would never get back. Slightly different.

          • Neil, at a 5% interest rate per year, paying $275 000 upfront means after 8 years, you lost a total $406 300.25.

            Giving $800 000 for 8 years and taking back that $800 000 means that you lost $381 964.36 in interest.

            Thats only a difference of $24 335.89 between the two. I don’t think that this difference is significant for an investor.

          • Your math is off (by a factor of 10?), but that’s not really the point. The point is: *The current immigrant investors would get their initial capital back eventually, the Expos plan people would not*.

            It’s the difference between a loan and a grant. You’re going to get different reactions when you ask for one vs. the other.

        • The problem with this alleged plan is that the “investor” immigrants funding goes into general coffers (as it should do). So when those people emigrate to Canada, the Gov’t gets the money to use toward operating the country and services.

          This is really no different than suggesting that all Canadians pay a special “Montreal baseball” levy to cover the costs of a stadium, expansion fees, and annual operating losses (which can still happen, despite baseball’s lucrative pooled revenue shares, particularly when the business will be earning about half their revenues in $0.75 dollars and paying nearly all expenses in USD).

          This is really just opportunity cost (or maybe Reaganomics, if you remember them…) all over again. If I redirect the money I should be using to pay my mortgage to pay my utilities, I haven’t created new revenue streams nor reduced my expenses.

          • Read carefully:

            – 2015: $170,500,000 (620 accepted applicants x $275,000);
            – 2016: $170,500,000 (620 accepted applicants x $275,000);
            – 2017: $170,500,000 (620 accepted applicants x $275,000);
            Total: $511,500,000

            Those 1860 applicants are applicants that are not accepted during those 3 years. And the assumption is that 100% of those applicants investments is applicable ONLY to the stadium.

            So it’s new money that Canada (Quebec) does not get anyway.

          • It’s not money that’s dependent on building a stadium, though. So either 1) selling another $500m worth of immigration allowances is a worthwhile thing, and Canada should do it and spend the money on whatever it wants, not necessarily a stadium for Montreal, or 2) it’s not a good idea to sell more immigration allowances, in which case it’s a bad idea whatever the money goes to.

            And that’s not even getting into the question of whether anyone would hand over the cash for these without ever getting it back. It’d be more honest just to spend $500m in cash and do the immigration things separately if you wanted, honestly. This way, it’s a shell game.

          • Montreal investors (Bell, Bronfman, Garber, Rossy et al.), City of Montreal and provincial/federal governments must determine if investing/allocating funds into a baseball stadium/team is appropriate/profitable or not.

            So far, what we know (projections/estimates in 2013) is that:

            – Governments will received $88M in tax per year (see the independent study from the Conference Board of Canada)

            – Building a new stadium will generate $107M during the construction phase.

            http://www.ccmm.qc.ca/externe/baseball/analyse_retombees_baseball_131212.pdf

            If this project make sense financially for the private investors and the governments, then they should proceed. If not, then let’s invest the money into another project (to be defined).

            So far, we are all speculating on the funding process of a new stadium and a team. The proposal is not yet reveal (should be publicly released by the end of 2016). What we heard is that private investors knows that they need to take the lead and submit a proposal/plan and on the other hand, governments will see how they can support such private investments.

            Until then, we can argue a lot, but we have only assumptions or scenarios based on limited information.

            Montreal have extensive experience in negotiating sports/entertainment events and facilities in the last 15 years (Jazz Festival, Francofolies, F1 Montreal Grand-Prix, Bell Center, Saputo stadium, Percival-Molson stadium, Jean-Drapeau park Agora to be built for Montreal 375th anniversary), we learned from our own (and others mistakes) and we continue to leverage our expertise/vision of how to shape the future of the city and the region of Montreal.

            We can only hope that decision makers will consider all factors in order to design the best project with such investments. And I don’t have any reason to believe (at this time) the decision process is skewed.

        • Neil, that’s why I put the number $406 300.25 for the Expos investment (capital plus interest) vs $381 964.36 (interest only, they get back their $800 000).

    • For more details on Garber and Bronfman, here are their interviews back in April 2016.

      http://www.rds.ca/videos/baseball/baseball-a-montreal-je-suis-un-amoureux-du-baseball-mitch-garber-3.1178837

      http://www.rds.ca/videos/baseball/baseball-a-montreal-il-faut-etre-patient-stephen-bronfman-3.1178836

      And confirmation from Mayor Coderre that the stadium plan/funding will be released before the end of 2016.

      http://www.rds.ca/videos/baseball/mlb/propos-interessants-du-maire-denis-coderre-par-rapport-a-un-eventuel-retour-des-expos-3.1177852

    • Don’t get me wrong — I would love for Montreal to get a new team, as it’s one of my favorite cities and I’d love an excuse to go there more often. I just don’t think it helps any to downplay the enormous lift it’s going to take to raise money for a stadium, given that MLB will want any team owner to be putting their money into expansion fees, not stadium costs.

  3. This is statement is an acknowledgement that Texas does not have a stadium “problem”, they just want the public to pay for a luxury. Pathetic. Come to think of it, maybe the A’s or the Ray’s could move into the old Rangers and Braves stadiums.

  4. I know Montreal is bigger, but I still think Vancouver has a better target demographic. Montreal feels more European, while Vancouver feels more like Seattle/Portland/SF/LA.

    • That’s an odd sort of statement.

      I mean, at some level it’s true, but the Mariners are not exactly the most valuable franchise in baseball. Being in that region a stadium would have to be a dome or retractable roof as every April game would be a rainout otherwise. “Hong-couver” has a unique demography as it has actively courted investment from China and has a very high number of immigrants who didn’t grow up playing baseball.

      It’s not an impossible market but the reasons you mention are arguments against rather than for Vancouver.

        • Ummm…in addition to being a common term it is the name of the blog of the Vancouver correspondent for the South China Morning Post. I don’t exactly know how this can be considered “a racial epithet”. Hong Kong and Vancouver have strong economic, social and even architectural links and this is a positive thing. I personally loved Vancouver and visited frequently when I live in Seattle because it was cosmopolitan where Seattle is provincial.

          By the way, I also reference Tehrangeles, a similar construction, and I’m Iranian-American.

          Please don’t be so quick to jump to personal attacks.

          • Yeah, I read “Hong” as a Hong Kong reference, not as shorthand for “people from the mysterious Orient.”

        • Allow me to also further clarify so there might be no misunderstanding:

          I made no statement regarding, in the parlance of Canada, “visible minorities.” Very specifically what I was responding to was the idea that Montreal was “European.” In fact, a negligible part of Montreal’s population was born in Europe. Regardless of race, the bulk of Montreal residents are Canadian-born.

          In contrast, per Statistics Canada, 40-45% of the Vancouver Metro Area is foreign born. We all, quite naturally, have an affinity for the sports we grew up playing and watching. 40-45% is a higher percentage than almost any North American metro area.

          With the notable exception of Korean-born residents, most foreign-born residents of Vancouver grew up in countries where baseball is not common: Hong Kong SAR, China, Taiwan, India, Pakistan, etc. Given the unique scale of the foreign-born population of Vancouver among North American cities, this is significant.

          I am postulating that this might limit the appeal of a baseball team in a way that it wouldn’t in Montreal. On the flip side, it would help explain why the Vancouver Whitecaps are an especially popular MLS franchise as soccer is popular in many of these countries.

          I was using shorthand as I thought this would be understood, but clearly it was not, so I thought I would spell it out.

          • But the city of Montreal does seem more European than Vancouver does. I’m talking about architecture. San Francisco has a high Asian population, but I’m not talking about that. Just architecture.

            Even at that, the Giants sure sell out that stadium a lot. I don’t know about Calgary. Never been there.

            Off topic, I’m wondering if this is a common issue. http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/10/06/concern-grows-over-steepness-of-golden-1-centers-upper-bowl-seats/

          • Well, sort of. If you never leave Old Montreal, sure, but otherwise it mostly looks like a Canadian city. Regardless buildings don’t go to baseball games, people do.

            As for San Francisco, 30% of the Bay Area is foreign-born which is way above the US average but less than 45%. In addition more of these folks come from countries where baseball may not be the national game but it’s not unknown (e.g. Mexico). And of course, most obviously, the Bay Area has almost 3 times as many people as Greater Vancouver.

          • The Montreal urban area has almost double the population of Vancouver, plus a longer history of baseball fandom. I think they could both be viable MLB locations eventually, but right now there’s no contest.

    • If Canada had to have a second team, I think Calgary or Edmonton would be a better cultural fit than Vancouver, if they were only bigger.

      Montreal is still the best choice, not just in Canada but perhaps in North America as a whole, unless someone wants to put another team into the Toronto-Hamilton market.

    • Did Manfred said Vancouver once? No.

      Does Bell Media (TSN and RDS) will invest in a team in Vancouver or Montreal considering RDS is French only sport network? The answer is 100% behind Montreal.

      End of story.

  5. Many obstacles exist to baseball returning to Montreal.
    None of them are insurmountable, but it will take very very wealthy investors who are willing to park $1Bn as an expansion fee and probably a stadium contribution somewhere in the $200m-300m range (both $Cdn).

    They will need to do that and be willing to accept owning a business that might appreciate over the long term (though this is uncertain), but will be a break even proposition on operations.

    They will have to accept the fact that their regional tv revenues will max out at maybe $40m USD (which would put them amongst the lowest such earners in MLB) and that at least half of their other revenues will be earned in $Cdn (roughly speaking, 75 cents on the dollar).

    Add to the that the fact that US based franchises are able to both expense player payroll costs and depreciate them against earnings (of the baseball business or others, in the case of owners with multiple businesses), which Canadian sports businesses cannot do.

    The Blue Jays, of course, face many of these same problems. However, Rogers paid $25m for their stadium and, IIRC, somewhere in the $160m range for the team. They are also owned by a media company that considers their 6-700 hours of total coverage each year as “content”. So balanced against any actual operating losses, Rogers must consider the cost (and value/customer interest) of alternate programming.

    Again, nothing is impossible. But unless the other major media company in Canada (Bell) plays a major, major part in the ownership group, it’s hard to see how the math works.

    As Neil said above, I’d love to see the Expos back. But even if you have a few really wealthy guys willing to park money in an expansion fee for 20 years and earn nothing on it (for social reasons or otherwise), it’s hard to see how it works as a business.

    • Coderre and Garber said it repeatedly, money is not a problem. Manfred and MLB executives (as well as MLB owners) had several meetings with Montreal investors. And they have no doubts about money.

      And Bell Media have $5B ready to invest in baseball (they lost the NHL TV rights for 12 years).

      Stay Tuned on TSN and RDS!

    • Regional TV deal for the Rays is ~$20M/year if I’m right.

      If it’s all about TV and eyeballs, TV ratings for Toronto Blue Jays on the french sports networks in Quebec (TVA Sports and RDS) are between 200 000 to 738 000 viewers (738K was the rating of game #5 against Texas in 2015 on RDS only, 10M+ on Sportsnet!).

      Just want to point out that those numbers are for a team from Toronto! Which is kind of unusual considering the rivalry between Toronto and Montreal. Imagine the TV ratings with the Expos: 2x to 3x those numbers just in french.

      So just with this example (400 000 up to 1.5M-2M viewers in french only!), Montreal could be in the top 10 teams in MLB in term of ratings.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2016/09/28/here-are-the-2016-mlb-prime-time-television-ratings-for-each-team/2/#76e3655f6f41

      So the TV deal for the Expos will be way higher than what the Rays can get and the next deal for Tampa Bay is expected to be in the $80-$100M range.

      To put that in perspective, 60 games for the Montreal Canadiens in regular season worth $60M. The other 22 games (and playoffs) are part of the Sportsnet/TVA Sports deal ($5.5B over 12 years), around $500M/year just for TVA Sports if I’m right.

      Expos should not top such deal but will be very high considering Bell desperately need prime sport content for TSN1-2-3-4-5 and RDS1-2-INFO.

      • CORRECTION: To put that in perspective, 60 games for the Montreal Canadiens in regular season worth $60M. The other 22 games (and playoffs) are part of the Sportsnet/TVA Sports deal ($5.2B over 12 years), around $120M/year just for TVA Sports if I’m right.

    • John, here is the latest TV deal in the MLB. At $40M USD/year, such contract in 2016 would ne raked 18 over 29.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/estimated-tv-revenues-for-all-30-mlb-teams/

      Let’s assume Montreal get a TV contract of $60M CAD ($46M USD with an exchange rate of $1.30), they will be in the middle of the pack in 2016.

      We’ll see where the TV deals will go across the league in 2020 but with very high expected TV ratings in Quebec, I don’t see the $60M CAD number going under $75M-$80M CAD by that time.

  6. Just for the sake of discussion as I already sent us on an international tangent elsewhere: If MLB is going to add teams, why not Japan?

    The sport is hugely popular in Japan. In fact while baseball may not be America’s national passtime anymore it certain is Japan’s. The average attendance of NPB games is about 1000 people less than MLB. If the Yomiuri Giants were in MLB they’d be #4 in attendance, just above the San Francisco Giants. The quality of league play is quite good. Needless to say the number of people in Japan is large.

    Now, of course, I realize Japan is far away. However, in 1958 when the Giants and Dodgers moved to California a flight from NYC to LA took 12 hours. Today a flight from LA to Tokyo takes 11.5 hours. Baseball solved the long travel problem by grouping the schedule into West Coast swings which is why they made it a condition that two teams go west. Even if MLB didn’t merge fully with the 12 team NPB, Japan certainly could support at least 4-6 teams which is more than the West Coast originally did.

    The NFL is always talking up London even though no one in the UK cares about football and that would be one team on an island by itself. Baseball could have a bunch of teams (solving the logistical problems) in a country that loves baseball much more than we do these days.

    • Before going to Japan (or Europe), North America must be fully covered (developed). Canada ans Mexico have plenty of room for revenue expansion before looking at Japan or elsewhere.

      • 1. Why?
        2. Define “fully covered”

        Montreal is probably the most promising empty North American market and even it is marginal, baseball failed there before and it’s not particularly fast growing.

        When you have a division champion in the Cleveland Indians that drew only 19,650 per game, you might be a bit oversaturated.

        If you were going into Japan and there wasn’t already teams there, you’d likely start with two teams: one for the Kanto region (Tokyo/Yokohama) and one for Kansai (Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe). When you find two markets in North America with 42M and 23M people respectively, most baseball-mad and high incomes, let me know.

        • Wow I love this thought it’s fun to consider. Two teams doesn’t sound like enough, 4 makes 34, a difficult number, so let’s say 6. That gives MLB 6 divisions of 6 teams. First question, are all the Japanese teams in the AL, NL or are they split evenly between the leagues 3 and 3?
          You’d almost have to split them it would seem. So the NL West is 3 NPB teams plus the Dodgers, Giants and Padres while the AL West is 3 NPB teams plus the Angels, A’s and Mariners. My first curiosity with this alignment is does it force more of a balanced schedule so the west coast teams don’t have to travel to Japan so many more times than other teams?
          I’m guessing the former NPB teams would have longer road trips and longer home stands. Would MLB move inter-league to more geographical match-ups guaranteeing the Japanese teams more games against each other? How do you handle postseason scheduling?
          A division series where a team has to fly to Japan for game 5 after also going there for games 1, 2 sounds brutal. Maybe the answer is to bundle all games in a series involving a team in Japan but do they do that for the World Series too?
          I think twice during WW2 the World Series was played in a 3-4 format. Obviously this is very complicated and that’s not including however the surviving NPB teams would have to compensate the other NPB teams. They would need minor league teams…. which is another thing that would have to be figured out. All that said however, I think the NFL, NBA and NHL wish they had a country with the economy, political stability and love for their sport that that MLB has in Japan.

          • Oh, there would still be issues to work out no doubt. The obvious solution would be to realign teams east and west without regard to AL vs. NL so East Coast teams and Japanese teams rarely play. That though breaks with tradition.

            However, there are other issues, no doubt including:

            – I’m not sure the Japanese would enjoy playing in something called the American League. Our Canadian friends have been good sports about that but I imagine that wouldn’t go over as well. National League is likely less politically…complicated.

            – Both leagues have teams called the Giants and Tigers. Worse still the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers are probably the two most popular teams.

            – Japanese teams often have corporate sponsorships integrated into their team names. I think Americans would have some trouble getting their heads around the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, let alone the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (who are sponsored by Nippon Ham, their mascot does not actually fight with ham).

            However, all solvable things with some work. Money has a way of finding a way through such problems.

          • I remember being so disappointed when I found out there was no such thing as a ham fighter

  7. St. Pete & Oakland are already way better options than Montreal, and we know how those stadium situations are going. Plus the Loonie is still weak. Maybe in 10 years, somebody will buy the A’s or Rays, move them to Montreal & spend the next decade or 5 playing in Olympic Stadium while they try to build a new Montreal stadium. But I think this dance will just keep going on.
    The only thing worse than 6 divisions of 5 teams is 8 divisions of 4 teams. I seriously doubt MLB will ever get rid of Interleague Play or contract two teams.

    • MLB will expand. The real question is when.

      Based on Manfred comments so far, the timeline is beginning the expansion process within 2-3 years.

      Cromartie, confirmed this week that he expect an expansion (return of MLB in Montreal) within 3-4 years. Knowing that Cromartie is in constant communication with the commissioner office, such statement is very solid and credible.

      https://919sport.ca/on-parle-de-sport/article/warren-cromartie-des-opportunités-pour-le-retour-des-expos#

      • Yeah I don’t think so. MLB expanding (which is no guarantee) has to be done in two’s & there is nowhere else remotely a close 2nd expansion city. The logistics of all of this is astounding. Manfred is just paying Montreal lip-service. Talking expansion is just a sport bragging about how about strong & healthy they think they are & to drum up interest.
        So many factors play into this, how gullible a city is, the Canadian dollar, the local & national economy, that it takes 3-4 years to build a stadium, etc.
        If anything, Montreal would possibly get the Rays (tho I wouldn’t hold my breath) in 2028 if they get anyone at all. Tho it’s all very unlikely. Reading between the lines, this is more of Manfred turning up the heat on Oakland & St.Pete/Tampa to build new stadiums, which is what’s really going on here & what is vastly preferred.

        • First, exchange rate is not a significant factor, $7M to $10M CAD/year impact at $1.30 on $150M CAD revenues for a baseball team in Canada. When investors invest $1B+ USD for a team, $7M to $10M CAD/year is pocket change. Bronfman was bold on this topic, exchange is not a factor. Next question.

          Second, Montreal (Mayor Coderre and Montreal Baseball Project) are working with Mexico City to help them prepare their expansion plan. The goal is to present a 2-cities proposal to MLB, a turn-key proposal to make sure expansion will not be stopped by the lack of on city proposal. This information was released publicly by Mayor Coderre back in March 2016. Coderre visited the mayor of Mexico City this summer to officialize the process/proposal.

          Third, Éric Gagné confirm last week that a second group of investors from New York is trying to get involved in the Montreal Project (or probably in the second city proposal in Mexico, that’s my guess). We were informed in 2015 that investors from NY with deep pockets were interested to invest into a MLB expansion team.

          Finally, Montreal is doing everything to get an expansion team and if by then, an existing team is available for sale/relocation, then so be it. In fact, MBP/investors meet 2-3 times with Sternberg since 2014, so MLB/Rays are well aware that we are waiting to see what’s gonna happen in Tampa Bay.

          Sternberg told publicly that by the beginning of 2017 season, he will take a decision regarding the new stadium project (if he’s moving forward or not).

          The question now is does Montreal will announce a stadium and funding (the plan) before Sternberg will announce his decision in 2017?

          We’ll have an answer sooner than later.

          • An interesting comment from Manfred last week about the Rays and the stadium issue (and his expectations):

            In answering a question about expansion to Montreal, commissioner Rob Manfred reiterated that the “Tampa and Oakland” stadium situations need to be resolved first and “hopefully, we’re going to make good progress on both … in the relatively short term.”

            http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/rays-offseason-challenge-improve-without-increasing-payroll/2297183

  8. So Montreal has no approved stadium plan, no approved ownership group, no approved money, and a league that isn’t even expanding anytime soon. Yeah, that sounds like a recipe for success…

    • Expansion is expected within the next 3-4 years. Manfred is planing to discuss expansion with MLB owners in 2018 or 2019 (based on his comments last week and all his comments for the last 12-18 months are pointing in that direction).

      Regarding stadium plan, ownership group, funding (private vs public), what we know (information that was revealed publicly):

      1. Stadium site is in Goose Village, next to Peel Basins. Stadium plan is almost completed (thanks to the all the expertise developed when the Labatt Stadium was designed, the plans were almost completed, 75% completed based on the architect comments, Provencher Roy). More details will be disclosed by the end of 2016.

      2. Ownership group is under the leadership of Stephen Bronfman, Mitch Garber, Larry Rossy and Bell Media. A letter was sent to all MLB owners in 2014 to let them know what the group is doing with the support of Montreal Baseball Project and Montreal Homerun Project. Several meetings with Manfred, commissionner office, MLB owners, occurs over the past 3-4 years. This group started to work on MLB return in Montreal back in 2009-2010 with a first preliminary business plan in 2011. Several iterations of this plan were produced, followed by the E&Y study and up to a final version to be released.

      3. Funding for a stadium (private and public) is not disclosed but what was said publicly is that all parties (investors, mayor and provincial government) are discussing/negotiating and at this time, there’s probably a plan that all parties agreed. More details will be disclosed by the end of 2016.

      4. The whole process (plan, funding, stadium site, …) is tied to the REM project (just announced in April 2016) and MLB decision to expand or relocate a team. REM project is now public ($5.5B investment for Phase 1 for an electric train including a train station next to the stadium site), so the main question regarding mass public transportation in Goose Village and Griffintown is now addressed brilliantly.

      As per Mayor Coderre quote in March 2016: “It’s not because no information is publicly released that no discussions and meetings are happening behind the scene.”

      Mayor Coderre is an experimented politician, that know how to manage such major proposal to make it work.

      Did I mention that the 375th anniversary of Montreal is in 2017?

      Stay Tuned!

      ;)

      • Good work making unsubstantiated claims. Anyone can make stuff up. That doesn’t make it useful. It’s a fact that not a single one of the pieces of the puzzle that I mentioned has been approved. Period.

        But by all means, keep up that wishful thinking that is wholly unsupported by reality.

        • Like Capitaine Bonhomme was saying:

          “Les sceptiques seront CON-FON-DUS, DU-DU-DU!”

          Keep reading this excellent blog, more details will be disclosed in the near future about those pieces of the puzzle!

    • MLB is not expanding anytime soon. Montreal is just a threat (albeit weak) for Oakland & the Rays. A bunch of articles & hot air isn’t going to convince me Montreal will have the Expos anytime soon. The Canadian government is usually very reluctant to help fund stadiums & this whole project is going to be very expensive, and I do not ever believe any estimates are even remotely accurate. There is no second MLB city, either, and I would really hate to see an already diluted sport watered down even more. If anything, I bet it’s more likely to see rosters expanded by one or two than adding more teams.
      Maybe in 2025 this will become more doable when the Rays lease is nearing, assuming we’re not all drowning in the ocean.

      • Regarding the Canadian government, “usually very reluctant to help fund stadiums” is not the right term. I prefer “always refuse to fund stadiums”. That’s the reality in Canada.

        Now, the question is if the Provincial government (Quebec) will provide any funds?

        The big dilemma for the Quebec government is how much money will be invested into the Olympic Park (new roof, maintenance, any transformations of the site) considering this is a major asset that is all paid and the home of major attractions (Biodome, Insectarium, Planetarium, Botanical Garden)?

        The answer to that question will have an impact on how much funds will be allocated to a new/real baseball stadium directly or indirectly (on infrastructure around the stadium). Even if Quebec city got several hundreds of millions for the new Videotron Center, I don’t think the provincial government will do the same thing in Montreal.

        Hopefully, by the end of 2016, we will have more answers than questions on this topic. Otherwise, medias and general public will start intensifying their questions because we need to have debate this important project.

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