The Montreal Expos return!
Not so fast...
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
The Montreal Expos, the return.
Montreal, a baseball market?
Since 2004, when they left the French capital of North America for Washington, the Expos have been a taboo subject for Montrealers. Thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays’ success and growing popularity in Canada, Montreal has been the host of Jays’ pre-season games. During the last 4 years, when mayor Denis Coderre was in office, the return of the Montreal Expos has been gaining a lot of traction in the private sectors. Rich investors like Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber have been very vocal with their interest for a new stadium downtown Montreal.
In recent weeks, the new mayor, Valérie Plante, had multiple meetings with private investors. The main subject of discussion is a new stadium. The problem is that the public sector has zero interest in putting people’s money in a project of that nature. Meaning that all the money needed for a new stadium, would have to come from a group of private investors.
Bronfman, who is leading a group of very influential businessmen, has met with Rob Manfred this week, regarding the return of the Expos.
Expansion or relocation?
Unfortunately for baseball fans in Montreal, an expansion team is out of the picture, it seems, since the fees are incredibly high, around $5 billions US, is too much for the group of investors who would have to pay for the stadium also, without any help from the two levels of government.
Relocation is the easy answer. But when will this happen? Manfred has been on recorded saying that he envisions the MLB becoming a 32 teams league around 2020, just like the NFL. Cities like Portland, Mexico, San Antonio and Montreal have been named by Manfred himself.
Baseball in Montreal will be an easy sell…
Not so fast! The main problem with the Expos, when they left, was the thin list of season tickets holder. It will prove difficult to sell America’s past-time to Montrealers for a schedule made up of 81 home games, which some are played in the middle of the day, during the week!
The business model in Montreal will need to be much more different than the one seen in the USA and even Toronto’s, where most companies have season tickets. In Quebec, businesses are usually much smaller in size compared to Ontario and Montreal has less headquarters than Toronto.
So, are they coming back or not?
I truly wish they will. Unfortunately, there is a long way to go. Since all level of government have been very clear about their non-participation, Bronfman and Garber will have to find many more investors to build a new stadium. Even if it becomes a reality, Montreal could become the new Quebec City: a city with a brand new stadium, but without a team. Let me tell you something about people living in Quebec City; they are pissed! It costs them a lot of money for not having an NHL team in town. Although Manfred has been much more open and honest than Gary Betman, baseball fans in Montreal could very well wait another 5 years before their beloved Expos return… If they<re not called the Montreal A’s or Montreal Rays. Who knows? The future of baseball is bright in Montreal, it’s just a matter of time.