Montreal all set to get new Expos — oh wait, false alarm, never mind

Montreal is all set to get a new MLB team!

A group of Montreal investors has met the conditions laid out by Major League Baseball to get a team back in the city, a source has told The Canadian Press.

“I can tell you we are no longer looking for investors and that we believe we have all the ingredients to be able to welcome a team, be it an expansion one or one that already exists,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

No, Montreal is not all set to get a new MLB team.

[Cirque du Soleil Chairman Mitch] Garber went on Mitch Melnick’s show on TSN 690 Radio Wednesday evening to clear up the picture. While acknowledging that a group of investors he is part of is very interested, he said talk of agreements on financial support from two levels of government and potential locations and designs for a stadium were inaccurate.

“There’s this great desire to have Major League Baseball in Montreal,” Garber said. “But it’s not as advanced as this story would make it sound.”

You probably could have guessed this from the source for the first story, which was literally “a source,” which could be anybody with any reason to want to spin the coverage to make it seem like a new Expos was imminent. While Garber and company may be doing well at putting together a list of investors, it’s long way from there to figuring out how much it would cost to buy a team (or pay expansion fees) and to build a new stadium, and then how to pay for all of it. So we’re a ways off.

That said, Montreal is a great city, and a large media market, and has a better track record of supporting baseball than you’d think if you only remember the post-firesale Expos (2.3 million in 1983, good enough for third in the NL!), so putting a team there isn’t a terrible idea for all concerned. Olympic Stadium, though, while actually kind of cool in some ways, was never all that good a place to watch baseball, so a new team would want a new stadium, at least in the medium term. And those don’t come cheap — though I still wonder how little you could get away with if you built, say, an exact replica of the original Wrigley Field, without any of the giant scoreboards or luxury seating or whatnot. Sure, you’d be giving up on some revenue streams then, but are those really enough to be worth today’s bloated construction costs. Maybe Philip Bess knows.


15 comments on “Montreal all set to get new Expos — oh wait, false alarm, never mind

  1. Montreal is a good baseball city, especially for a French-Canadian city, but the same high taxes and Canadian dollar exchange rates that existed when the Expos moved still exist today. Canada’s a tough place for sports teams not named the Canadiens or Maple Leafs to operate, especially when it comes to signing MLB free agents (taxes again), but Montreal did not deserve to lose the Expos.

  2. An exact replica of Parc Jarry would be cool, with it’s swimming pool in the outfield. But with a roof. Oh wait, that’s what Phoenix built.

  3. Neil, your analysis is incomplete. You need also to listen to Frederic Daigle answer to Mitch Garber on TSN690.

    http://www.tsn.ca/radio/montreal-690/daigle-montreal-baseball-group-is-ready-1.710494

    FYI, Frederic Daigle is a highly connected journalist from Canadian Press in Montreal.

    I can tell you the truth is between what Mitch Garber said and what Frederic Daigle said and wrote.

    Stay Tuned!

    • Also, Neil, you need to listen to Bronfman scrum yesterday.

      http://www.rds.ca/baseball/mlb/le-groupe-de-bronfman-n-attend-que-l-appel-1.4433640

    • FYI, one minister of the Quebec government was sitting next to Stephen Bronfman, Denis Coderre and Mitch Garber at a dinner yesterday.

      I’m not saying there’s a written agreement of some sort, but clearly Bronfman said that it’s a team effort (with the governments) and when it will be the time, they will get returns (taxes) and they will be happy.

      Stay Tuned!

    • Here is some Bronfman quotes that were translated.

      http://montrealgazette.com/sports/baseball/montreal-is-ready-just-waiting-to-hear-from-the-mlb-stephen-bronfman

    • I think the point is that this whole “deal” is incomplete. In fact, it’s not a deal at all… it’s an announcement that there might be something to announce at some point in the future.

      This is a positive step for the possible return of MLB to Montreal, no question. But this is nothing like the “last major hurdle” cleared, if that is what is being suggested.

      I hope Nos Amour do return. But we are still talking about 5-10 years, not 2019 (for example).

      • Agree with you, there is no deal. Even Frederic Daigle agree with that.

        Regarding Expos return, an expansion will occur (new teams will play) before the end of Manfred second mandate. First mandate ends in January 2020. Second mandate will ends in January 2025.

        I think the expansion process will start between 2019 and 2021.

        • So who is the other city in this expansion? And how does this happen before the A’s and Rays stadium situations get resolved?

          • The expansion will never occur before Rays/A’s situation is resolved. Everyone at MLB, in Montreal, around the league are saying the for at least 2 years. So I don’t know why you bringing up the word “before”.

            Regarding the second city, Manfred said many times that his preferred city is Mexico City. Montreal Mayor Coderre is working with Mexico City Mayor to help them prepare their business plan. Coderre plan is submit a 2-cities expansion bid (again when Rays/A’s stadium situation is resolved).

            We did not have any updates on Coderre trip to Mexico City in 2016 as well as how the joint-bid process is going on.

            Internationalization of Baseball is key to Manfred strategy. Adding Spanish and French cities will add Spanish and French content to mlb.com, mlb.tv and it will key to promote baseball in France, Africa (in French) and in other Spanish countries around the world).

            For more details, use Google Translate to read this article based on the interview with John McHale JR from MLB.

            http://www.985sports.ca/baseball/nouvelles/la-une/baseball-majeur-des-matchs-reguliers-a-montreal-de-829405.html

            Stay Tuned!

          • Greg, one thing is sure, Manfred want to resolve Rays/A’s stadium situation in the nest couple of years.

            Manfred attend every week a meeting with the A’s management in order to be updated on the A’s stadium process/negotation.

            Regarding the Rays, the MOU expire December 31st, 2017 and St. Pete will ask for a written update on the process by that date (the MOU authorize St. Pete to was for a written update on the process up to 3 times per year).

            So the Rays situation/plan/intentions should be clear by January 2018.

            In the meantime, MLB is OK with Rays local games to be played in Montreal in 2018, a not subtile way to put some pressure on St. Pete and Hillsborough County. Evenko in Montreal need only a 3 months notice to get the Big O MLB ready for such regular season games.

            More details again in this article.

            http://www.985sports.ca/baseball/nouvelles/la-une/baseball-majeur-des-matchs-reguliers-a-montreal-de-829405.html

            So that’s why I predict that Manfred will start an expansion process between 2019 and 2021. I assume by that time that both stadiums issues will be resolved or on their way to be resolved.

            Otherwise, relocation will probably be the hot topic around the league by then.

          • Pat , thanks for the info. The reason I said “before” is because I don’t hold much hope for the A’s or Rays stadium deals being hammered out in the next two years. There are no readily available relocation threats, nothing close to a public/private stadium deal, and in the case of the Rays they are stuck in their lease (which they could buy out of but only inflates the relocation cost).

            That being said, sometimes things come together quickly, behind the scenes, and with the right people (example Braves new stadium), so you never know….

          • To add – I wasn’t aware of Montreal as a potential home in 2018, so thanks for that as well

  4. oh would i love to see the expos back. i still dream of the hawk, cro, teeths, in the big O. not in my lifetime though, unfortunately.

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