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Officials Calls for Montreal Ballpark Referendum in 2021

Montreal Expos

An official has called for a voter question in 2021 concerning funds for a Montreal ballpark that, if built, could bring Major League Baseball back to the city. 

In various circles, hope has been building that Montreal will come up with a plan to bring MLB back for the first time since the Expos departed for Washington after the 2004 season. While there are still many uncertainties as to how a plan could take shape, or if/when a team could be obtained, Projet Montreal leader and the party’s 2017 mayoral candidate Valérie Plante contends that current mayor Denis Coderre has been negotiating behind close doors to obtain a team.

On Wednesday, Plante pledged that if elected she will support a referendum that calls on voters to weigh in on funding a proposed ballpark. Though such a referendum would not take place until 2021–four years after November’s upcoming election–Plante made her case for the initiative. More from The Montreal Gazette:

Her party trotted out a novelty cheque — signed by Coderre and made out to Major League Baseball for the amount of $500 million — as a prop to illustrate the point.

Plante declined to say whether she believes public money should be spent, but she did caution other cities that have contributed to build a stadium have had to either hike taxes or decrease services.

“We have limited financial resources, and many needs,” she said. “Public transit and housing are priorities — so, yes, a baseball team, but not at any cost.”

Plante said her party asked Coderre several months ago for the Nov. 5 election to have a referendum on the ballot asking Montrealers to weigh in on whether public funds should be dedicated to building a baseball stadium. She has also asked the mayor to be more forthright on the city’s plan to bring back a baseball team.

There have been signs of support for MLB’s return–it was even reported recently that Stephen Bronfman is soliciting ballpark designs–but a number of questions remain. Aside from the issue of if, how, or when Montreal would obtain a team–MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has emphasized that expansion would only take place after the Oakland and Tampa Bay ballpark situations are settled--there is also the funding formula for a ballpark, and where it would be located.

Coderre himself pointed out that there still are numerous points to resolve before a question can be considered: More from The Montreal Gazette:

“Is Montreal a baseball city? Absolutely. Should Montreal have its team return? Absolutely. Investors and the public are totally in agreement with this, and the city will play a role, but there’s no question about building anything before a team is a sure thing,” Coderre said.

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