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.
[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.