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Agreement Reached on Potential Montreal Ballpark Site

Montreal Expos

Two firms, including one led by Stephen Bronfman, a leader in the effort to bring MLB back to Montreal, have reached to an agreement to develop a site at the city’s Peel Basin with a project that could include a new ballpark. 

Bronfman has been leading an effort for a new Montreal ballpark and team as part of the Montreal Group, and earlier this year it was learned that he and his fellow investors were zeroing in on a site in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood for a potential facility project. The vision for a ballpark there would call for the facility to be built in an urban setting, surrounded by new mixed-use development.

The effort to build a development there has taken step forward, as it was announced on Tuesday that the Bronfman-led investment firm Claridge and real estate developer Devimco have agreed to partner on the project. Current plans call for Devimco to purchase the site from the Canada Lands Company, with Claridge serving as a financial partner and the two sides undertaking a development of about 950,000 square feet. More from The Canadian Press:

Stephen Bronfman, head of the Montreal Group, a group of investors wishing to bring Major Baseball home, said he reached an agreement with developer Serge Goulet, president of Devimco.

Bronfman noted that Devimco would purchase the land from the Canada Lands Company and Claridge would act as a financial partner. The development of some 950,000 square feet will be done in partnership.

Although is a certainly a step in the right direction for the Montreal Group, there are still plenty of issues that need to be addressed. The economics of acquiring a team and building a new ballpark will require sizable private investment, particularly with the cost of MLB franchises rising, and the path to obtain a team is still uncertain. MLB has not announced plans to expand to 32 teams, and is unlikely to do so until the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays resolve their respective ballpark searches. The A’s are making progress on a proposed ballpark at Oakland’s Howard Terminal, but still have to clear several layers of approval before that plan can move forward. The Rays, meanwhile, had discussions of a new ballpark in Tampa end late last year and are locked into a lease for St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field that runs through 2027. For now the Rays are not ruling out the idea of remaining in St. Petersburg, though owner Stuart Sternberg has expressed recent frustration with the team’s perpetually low attendance figures despite its on-field success.

Backers of MLB’s return to Montreal, however, could still take this development as a sign of progress. The site being targeted by investors would have better connectivity to downtown Montreal than Olympic Stadium, the final home of the Montreal Expos, and the model of a new ballpark surrounded by mixed-use development is one that is becoming increasingly favored in MLB. The site offers potential for redevelopment even if a new ballpark is not included in the final plans, but Bronfman and his investors have methodically been building the case for MLB’s return to Montreal and plans for the preferred site would only further that agenda.

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