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Montreal Mayor: “We’re In” on Return of MLB

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After meeting with investors Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber on their plans to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante says she’s in on any plan that will provide good economic and social development to her city.

Plante won election last fall partially based on indifference toward baseball, opposing any city assistance for a new ballpark. But with Bronfman and Garber working under the assumption that their group will bear most of the costs of a new ballpark — deemed necessary by MLB for any return to the city — Plante has been willing to hear pitches and express support for the project. She met yesterday with Bronfman and Garber and was even more enthusiastic about their efforts, per the Montreal Gazette:

“We want projects that are good for economic development and for social development and if the return of a baseball team is good for Montreal, we’re in,” Plante said after a one-hour meeting with Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber at city hall….

Asked what she meant when she said, “We’re in,” Plante said: “It means that we want to work together.”

“How can we put our strengths, our networks together? How can we make the best project possible for Montrealers, because what’s good for Montreal, this is where we’re in, we’re always looking forward to having good projects for Montreal,” Plante said.

Plante even sported some Expos merchandise before the meeting.

Keep in mind this is all very preliminary talk: MLB won’t be taking up any discussion of expansion until ballpark challenges in Oakland and Tampa Bay are resolved, and that could drag on another year or so. It is possible that new-ballpark efforts could collapse in either city or both cities, but for now everyone is working under the assumption that relocating a team is out of the question for now. Still, Bronfman and Garber made it clear they was working to establish the groundwork for a new ballpark and team:

Bronfman and Garber said it was premature to talk about possible sites for a new stadium or financial aspects like future tax breaks.

“Stephen made it clear to the mayor that the baseball file is a slow moving file,” said Garber, chairman of the federal agency Invest in Canada and a business executive who made a fortune in online gaming.

“If there’s a team that can move to Montreal or a new team that can be established in Montreal, we’ll figure out what the conditions are needed to attract that team, and we’re not asking the city for anything today other than for the city to support the idea of Major League Baseball coming back and being good for the city of Montreal,” he said.

“It’s a big project. It takes friends. It takes fans. It takes people around us,” Bronfman said.

More from CTV, where we opine on the return of Major League Baseball to Montreal. Yes, we’re optimistic.

Photo by Zach Spedden.

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