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Site Emerging for New Montreal MLB Ballpark

Montreal ExposA site at Peel Basin, located just off the downtown area, is being considered as the location of a new Montreal MLB ballpark, as the city and potential owners quietly advance in their planning.

The area in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood has long been rumored as the preferred location of a new Montreal MLB ballpark, so the decision to move forward with talks is not a surprise. With cities like Portland moving forward with new-ballpark plans and potential ownership groups there and in Nashville talking about pitching MLB, it would be the time for a potential ownership group in Montreal to begin serious planning. Expansion, it seems, would be the most likely route for Montreal to land an MLB team. With the Oakland Athletics pursuing a new Howard Terminal ballpark and the Tampa Bay Rays looking like they may reopen talks to stay in St. Petersburg, MLB’s last two pressing ballpark issues may be addressed in the next 18 months — which would then lead to the inevitable expansion talk and planning.

In Montreal, a potential ownership group has been laying the groundwork for a return of MLB by commissioning economic studies and touting the city’s success as an international trade center. The ownership group, Montreal Group, has wealthy businesspeople in its ranks — a good thing, as it will certainly cost well over a billion dollars to acquire a franchise and build a new ballpark.

Which brings us back to the Peel Basin as the potential location for a new ballpark. The Montreal Group is eying a parcel controlled by the federal government and has registered as lobbyists in order to negotiate a sale or transfer for a new ballpark. The site will be served by a new light-rail line as well, fulfilling the vision for a new urban ballpark. And so far there’s general approval, per the CBC:

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she is into the idea of a baseball stadium at the Peel Basin.

“I think that could be an interesting option,” she told reporters Wednesday….

Plante said she still hasn’t seen a business plan from the promoters, but she is interested in working with them to make sure the Peel Basin is the right location for a stadium and that the project would take into account the needs and reality of the area.

When asked whether the province would pressure the federal government into selling the land to the baseball group, Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for Montreal, said “it depends on what kind of pressure we’re talking about.”

Of course this is all very, very preliminary. But at a time when multiple cities are laying the groundwork for an MLB bid, the progress in Montreal is encouraging for anyone sentimental about the late, lamented Expos and the passion Montreal fans showed.

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