Stephen Bronfman, who has been leading efforts to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal, discussed details on Thursday for a new ballpark that would anchor a development at Peel Basin.
Bronfman has been leading the Montreal Group, a contingent of investors that has been mapping out plans for a proposed new ballpark that would anchor mixed-use development. Montreal’s prospects for obtaining an MLB franchise have come a bit more into focus in recent months, particularly since the league opted this summer to grant the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore a split-season arrangement that would include new ballparks in the Montreal and Tampa Bay markets.
It was anticipated that more details on a potential could emerge Thursday, as Bronfman was set to discuss his group’s vision for the project with city officials. Under the scope he presented, an open-air ballpark with a capacity of upwards of 34,000 would serve as the centerpiece of a development that would include commercial space and residences. While pitching the environmental sustainability aspects of the proposal, Bronfman also emphasized the opportunity to bring new development to an area near downtown Montreal. More from the Montreal Gazette:
“Here’s a great opportunity not just to build a baseball stadium near downtown but also to help with a theme of redevelopment of a sector of the city to make people proud,” Bronfman said. “This could add so much to our downtown, to our city, to everything we stand for.”
The public consultation heard proposals about what to do with the 2.3-square kilometre patch of formerly industrial lots between the Victoria Bridge and Old Montreal. The area, known as Bonaventure-Bridge, is home to landmarks like the Five Roses sign, Habitat 67 and a number of silos that hearken back to Montreal’s days as a grain shipping mecca.
Alluding to last week’s climate march, which brought an estimated 500,000 people to the streets of Montreal, Bronfman described the stadium as a “green project.” He said the facility would collect and recycle rainwater, that it would use geothermal energy, compost its waste, donate excess food to local charities and minimize parking spots so people won’t drive to the site.
Though the potential stadium is far from a métro stop and sandwiched between rail yards and the Lachine Canal, he said he wanted to work with Montreal’s transit authority to get a shuttle from downtown to the stadium. Once Montreal’s new commuter REM train is complete, Bronfman said it would have a stop at the stadium.
For now, there are still plenty of questions about the prospects of a new Montreal ballpark and MLB team. It remains to be seen if the proposal will gain the traction it needs politically, and plenty of obstacles would have to be overcome to make the proposed split-season arrangement a reality–something that Bronfman acknowledged earlier this year while describing the proposal as an important step to bring MLB back to Montreal. Still, it is clear that Bronfman and his group want to continue building momentum for the idea, and Thursday’s presentation at least presents some early possibilities for how a new ballpark could take shape.
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