Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, whose 2017 election campaign was marked by a definite lack of interest in bringing Major League Baseball back, will meet with Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber to discuss that very topic.
Bronfman, whose father, Charles, was majority owner of the Expos from 1968 until 1990, has been spearheading the effort to bring MLB back to Montreal. He currently runs an investment firm, but the family money comes from the establishment and operations of Seagram, the spirits empire. His public position has been that he and his investors can handle the acquisition of an expansion or existing team as well as construction of a new ballpark on their own, but will probably need some assistance (likely on the land front) to make any deal work.
As noted, during her election campaign Plante had dismissed the notion of public funding or financing of a new ballpark and argued that public investment would be better spent on something like the expansion of the city’s transit lines. However, with Bronfman not opening seeking ballpark funds at this time, Plante is now in a position to keep her campaign promises and help bring MLB back to Montreal. From the Montreal Gazette:
“I can’t wait to look into the state of affairs, to get started on this issue and see how we can move forward and look at the possibility of bringing back a team to Montreal, because in Montreal, we love baseball,” she said….
“I’m looking forward to meeting her. We all have to be on the same wavelength,” Bronfman said. “This is a sports team. Everyone has to play their role. We don’t need a cent from the city of Montreal, but we need a little help.”
Plante said last week she was keen to pursue the Montreal baseball dream. “I cannot wait for this meeting, and I think that already, it is a much better deal,” she said on March 28.
The future lineup of MLB cities is very much in doubt. Both Oakland and Tampa Bay have new-ballpark plans in the works; Tampa Bay has settled on a site but has not finalized a funding formula or timeline, while the Athletics are still evaluating the Coliseum and Howard Terminal as potential ballpark sites. Those two teams would be the prime candidates for relocation. On the expansion front. we’re obviously a ways from any decisions, but a move to 32 teams makes sense on many levels. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken highly of Montreal as a potential expansion candidate, and last week he also spoke highly of San Antonio as an MLB market as well. A year ago there was talk of Montreal and San Antonio as potential expansion markets (indeed, a group of investors that includes a high-profile industry veteran has been quietly working behind the scenes in San Antonio), and since then Portland has emerged as another potential expansion market.
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