When it comes to funding a new Montreal ballpark, officials from Quebec‘s three main political parties are showing a willingness to be a financial partner.
Montreal has been without a Major League Baseball team since the Expos moved to Washington after the 2004 season, but there continues to be interest in obtaining a new club. An investment group led by Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber is attempting to lay the groundwork for a new ballpark and team, even seeking fan input on a potential new ballpark earlier this year. The pair also met with Montreal mayor Valérie Plante in April, and she indicated after their meeting that she is in on any plan that will provide good economic and social development to her city.
Bringing MLB back to Montreal will require both the acquisition of a team and a new ballpark, so it is a process that will take time and is unlikely to have a resolution in the near future. However, in an encouraging sign, officials from the Quebec Liberal Party, Coalition Avenir Québec, and the Parti Québécois are all showing a willingness to be a minority partner in a new ballpark. All three are open to discussing some type of financial contribution to a new ballpark, though stress that private funding would have to be a major piece of the project. Additionally, the parties would want a team to be acquired before a new ballpark moves forward, citing Quebec City’s Vidéotron Centre as the type of outcome they want to avoid. More from CBC News:
All the major parties keenly want to avoid another funding fiasco like that which led to the construction of Quebec City’s ill-fated Vidéotron Centre, a decision made by Jean Charest’s Liberal government back in 2011.
“We will not do ‘build it and they will come,'” said [Carlos] Leitão.
Aside from a few high-profile concerts, that arena has largely remained empty since it opened three years ago, with Québecor Media Inc.’s failure to secure an NHL expansion team.
The Quebec government and Quebec City split the bill for the arena’s construction — to the tune of nearly $400 million.
Vidéotron Centre was built with the intention of landing an NHL team, and it appeared to put Quebec City at the front of the pack for an expansion franchise two years ago. However, the NHL picked Las Vegas from a round of expansion in 2016 and passed on Quebec City, despite the fact that that decision left it with 31 teams (a potential Seattle squad could raise it 32 in the coming years). There has virtually been no talk of a future Quebec City NHL team since.
Montreal is a larger market, so it may not be as prone to the obstacles that faced Quebec City in its NHL pursuit. However, there are still some questions about the how city would land an MLB team. Expansion appears to be on the league’s radar for the future, but not until the ongoing ballpark searches of the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are settled. Both are currently working to secure new ballparks in their current regions, so neither them appear to be viable relocation candidates for now.
Clearly there are still plenty of uncertainties, but the comments from officials from the three major parties should be encouraging news for Montreal baseball boosters. A modern successor to the Expos’ Olympic Stadium will be a must to land a new MLB squad, and government cooperation would surely help any new ballpark project.
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