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Montreal capable of supporting MLB — if there’s an owner with deep pockets

Montreal ExposMontreal is financially healthy enough to support Major League Baseball, according to a study from the Conference Board of Canada, but it would take an owner with deep pockets and a new ballpark for success — and neither are likely to emerge any time soon.

Overall, Montreal has emerged as a wealthy international city, with a large and profitable corporate base. And the Canadian dollar is running close to par with the American dollar, a huge deal for an industry largely playing out based on American currency.

But even with a positive economic bedrock, baseball in Montreal would be a stretch: the team would generate enough income to support a $62.3-million payroll — roughly the same as the Toronto Blue Jays payroll, in the bottom third of baseball. Now, there’s not necessarily a correlation between payroll and winning this season — just ask the Minnesota Twins ($112.7 million payroll), Pittsburgh Pirates ($45 million payroll) and the Tampa Bay Rays ($41 million payroll) — but having financial resources certainly helps.

Olympic StadiumAnd, of course, there’s not really a good ballpark for Montreal at this time, unless someone wants to tackle playing at Olympic Stadium as a short-term solution until a new ballpark comes online. Because of these challenges, the Conference Board concluded, an owner with deep pockets willing to tackle the issue of a new ballpark is needed:

“Moreover, a new stadium would probably be required to make baseball work again in Montreal. That would require a huge investment in a team with little near-term hope of success in the standings,” the study said.

“Unless an owner with extremely deep pockets and a willingness to lose money shows up, baseball won’t be returning to Canada’s second-largest city any time soon.”

Since neither is likely to appear anytime soon, the study’s authors concluded the chances of Major League Baseball returning to Montreal any time soon were quite low — a conclusion, we might add, that really didn’t require a whole lot of research.

Pictured: Olympic Stadium during the final days of the Montreal Expos.


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