Major League Baseball Expansion: Montreal Still in the Running

The commissioner of Major League Baseball recently said he hoped to put an expansion process in place before his departure in January 2029. In an article published Wednesday, the ESPN network indicates that Montreal could still be in the running, even if the most recent project to bring a part-time club to the Quebec metropolis is dead in the bud.

ESPN reports that the cities of Austin/San Antonio (Texas), Charlotte (North Carolina), Mexico, Nashville (Tennessee), Orlando (Florida), Portland (Ore.), Raleigh (North Carolina), Salt Lake City ( Utah) and San Jose (California) could also be considered, in addition to Montreal.

Aside from Mexico City and its approximately 22 million inhabitants in its greater metropolitan area, Montreal is the largest of these markets, with a population of nearly 4.3 million people.

While the article explains why each market might want to have an MLB franchise, it also exposes its weak points. In the case of Montreal, it is obviously the absence of a stadium.

The 870 million announced as the starting price of the major renovation project by Minister Caroline Proulx and the Olympic Park only targets the repair of the roof – but the entire interior would have to be redone.

For the moment, there do not appear to be any plans for a baseball configuration, but this portion of the work has not yet been addressed. It is expected that the roof repair will be ready in 2028, if no glitches thwart this schedule.

The Baseball Montreal Group, led by Stephen Bronfman, had led the file for a possible return of the MLB to Montreal. The group had opted for shared custody with the Tampa Bay Rays. This plan fell through in January 2022, when the MLB Executive Committee ultimately rejected this option in order to make further gains in negotiations to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players’ Association. .

Bronfman and his group wanted to build a new baseball stadium in Peel Basin, as part of the vast revitalization project for this area. This legacy to the city of Montreal was, however, rejected out of hand by the municipality following the presentation of the project before the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM). Mayor Valérie Plante declared at the time of the unveiling of the OCPM report that the businessman’s group “will have to be creative” in order to “maintain the diversity” essential to the development of the neighborhood. The site would now no longer be available.

At the end of 2022, on RDS, businessman and philanthropist Mitch Garber, also a member of the GBM, did not want to declare that the project to return baseball to Montreal was dead, but he admitted that there was very little movement in this direction.

Reached by The Canadian Press, William Jegher, partner at Ernst & Young and member of the Baseball Montreal Group, indicated that there was no active group in Montreal currently since there was no project to work on.

“When there is something concrete, there are passionate people in Montreal who will study it,” he said. Does this mean we’re going to get started? Not necessarily. Maybe we’ll look at this and say that it’s not for us; we cannot say this at present.

“The MLB has no timetable and we do not know who the players will be in five, 10 years, whether in a possible group of shareholders or at the head of the city of Montreal or the province” , added Jegher.

According to ESPN, Nashville is currently the preferred market to establish a franchise in the east. Portland, Oregon, would be the favorite in the West if MLB decides to move forward with a balanced expansion plan, as it has done in six expansions since 1961. The last one was took place in 1998, with the Arrival of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Netflix too

It wasn’t just ESPN that brought the Expos back to prominence on Wednesday: streaming service Netflix announced it would present a documentary on the end of the first MLB franchise in Canada .

Entrusted to the Quebec box Attraction, the currently untitled documentary must recount “the ordeals which led to the definitive departure of the Montreal Expos, beloved by Quebecers, and the way in which they continue to spark debate 20 years later late,” we read on the Attraction website.

The documentary will be directed by Jean-François Poisson and produced by Marie-Christine Pouliot and Richard Speer.

The Montreal Expos arrived in the MLB during the 1969 season. They played their last season in Montreal in 2004. The organization has been based in Washington since 2005.

2024-02-21 19:07:46
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