SBD/March 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Montreal Group Launches Feasibility Study For Possible Return Of MLB Franchise

Former MLBer and Montreal Baseball Project Founder & President Warren Cromartie, whose group aims to “bring the major leagues back to the city,” said that he will “know soon whether fans and the business community really want it,” according to Bill Beacon of the CP. The group and the Montreal Board of Trade Wednesday “launched a feasibility study” to see “if conditions are right and the interest is there.” An accounting team from Ernst & Young will “analyze the financial factors and stadium options and law firm BCF LLP will look at the legal and financing structures of the project.” Polling firm Léger Marketing will “take the pulse of the business community and the public to see if there are enough people ready to buy tickets and corporate boxes to make the team work.” The C$400,000 study, with costs “split evenly between the Board of Trade and some private business people, is to be completed by the end of the year” (CP, 3/20). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Sean Gordon wrote the project is a “massive, ambitious undertaking.” Ernst & Young Eastern Canada Managing Partner Sylvain Vincent said that it is “in the range of a billion dollars -- including the cost of a new, purpose-built downtown ballpark.” Cromartie has “enlisted the help” of “some of the same consultants who built the business case for a new publicly funded NHL-ready arena in Quebec City.” Leblanc said that it is “an open question whether the endeavour can go ahead in the absence of public money.” But he added, “Our preference at this point is that it be a private project.” The Montreal Baseball Project has “already consulted with architects to scout out possible locations for the downtown stadium the Expos never had -- the Griffintown area, just southwest of the city centre.” However, there is also the “conspicuous absence of a deep-pocketed owner-in-waiting.” Finally, there is the “small matter” of convincing MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to “return to a city the league couldn’t bail out of quickly enough” (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/20).
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