Prospects for Minor League Baseball returning to Ottawa and Montreal have dimmed in recent weeks, as a lack of funding for new and improved facilities is proving to be an impediment to any franchise shifts.
With the rebound of the Canadian dollar, MiLB teams moving into Canada has been seen by many owners as a desirable move, particularly with Ottawa Stadium — still a very viable facility — open for a long-term lease. And even as recently as a month ago there was a lot of optimism that an Ottawa-based ownership group could land a Class AA Eastern League team — pegged by owners and brokers as the Binghamton Mets — followed by Mandalay Baseball bringing another Eastern League team to Montreal.
The word from the Winter Meetings: there’s been less progress made on the two moves than many believed. While Ottawa has indeed laid out the expectations for what it expects a tenant to pay, there’s resistance both from the group seeking to bring in a team (they want the city to pay more of the ballpark upgrade costs) as well as from some city officials, who want the team to pick up more of the ballpark upgrade costs — $3.9 million at the very least. Working out a financial deal was predicted by many to be a difficult process; it’s proving to be even more difficult than anticipated.
In Montreal, the situation is even less certain. With little enthusiasm for public funding of a new ballpark, it looks less and less likely that an affiliated team will be hitting that market any time soon. A complicating factor: there’s really no place for a team to play temporarily. Jarry Park, the former home of the Montreal Expos, has long been converted to a national tennis facility (though part of the old ballpark was used as part of the tennis facility, as you can see in this satellite view). The lack of a facility is why the independent Can-Am League never landed the market, and it looks like it will be the determining factor in keeping out the Eastern League.
Now, this doesn’t mean either effort is dead — just that they’re not nearly as close as many in baseball believed.
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