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Report: Support High for MLB’s Return to Montreal

Montreal Expos

A group behind an effort to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal has released a new report, showing high levels of support from business people and residents. 

Montreal has been without an MLB team of its own since the Expos moved to Washington after the 2004 season, but there continues to be interest in obtaining a new club and constructing a new ballpark. An investment group led by Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber is attempting to lay the groundwork for a new ballpark and team, and commissioned a market and financial feasibility study by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL).

Results of the report released Thursday showed not only support for baseball in the city, but some specifics on what participants of the study would want in a potential new ballpark. It found that a very high number of respondents would want the facility to be in or close to downtown Montreal. Furthermore, it seems that fans desire a ballpark with an intimate design and access options such as walking, biking, and public transportation. More from CBC News:

“The results show how excited people are about the return of Major League Baseball to Montreal,” Stephen Bronfman, who is spearheading the campaign, said in a news release Thursday.

“The data we’ve collected will greatly assist us with achieving our ultimate goal of bringing MLB back to Montreal in an exciting, successful and sustainable way.”…

It found that 90 per cent of participants prefer a ballpark location close to the downtown core, and that 70 per cent would prefer a capacity of 35,000 seats or fewer.

It also found 80 per cent of participants would either bike, walk or take public transportation to the ballpark.

Bringing MLB back to Montreal is a considerable effort. Along with a modern replacement for the Expos’ Olympic Stadium, any group seeking to lure MLB would have to secure a team. The Tampa Bay Rays’ decision this week to drop plans for a new ballpark in Tampa’s Ybor City has prompted plenty of speculation about their future, including whether a Montreal move is a viable option. However, with the club’s Tropicana Field lease running through 2027 and no signs emerging that ownership is looking at a move, it remains to be seen if the Rays eventually represent a path back into MLB for Montreal. Expansion is also possible down the road, but MLB has not announced any formal plans to this point.

Still, the new report could help further discussions of a new ballpark and team in Montreal. A press release highlighting the key findings of the study can be found here.

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