Investment Group Makes Case For NBA Expansion In Montreal
Last night's Nets-Raptors game at Bell Centre in Montreal was "played against the backdrop" of a news conference "touting the possibility" of an NBA expansion franchise there, according to Pat Hickey of the MONTREAL GAZETTE. Former politician Michel Fortier and former Canadiens COO Kevin Gilmore "made their case in a presentation to the Montreal Board of Trade." There are a "few obstacles in the way, starting with Fortier’s admission that the NBA has no immediate plans for expansion." Their "lone commitment to date" comes from security firm GardaWorld CEO Stéphan Crétier, who is in for 10% of the team. The press conference was a "surprise to NBA Canada officials who had spent three days promoting basketball in the city." The word is they were "not pleased someone tried to hijack their party" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 10/11). In Montreal, Ryan Wolstat notes the NBA "isn’t currently looking to add any expansion franchises," but the Montreal group intends to be "ready should the day come when new teams are on the table." Members of the group said that the NBA has been "made aware of the interest, which originated" in '14, but has been "ramped up" with the addition of as a main investor. They have also informed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that "while they recognize 'Montreal isn’t on anybody’s short list,' they don’t mind being Plan B for now" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 10/11).
MISSING PIECE: SPORTSNET.ca's Michael Grange wrote Montreal as a willing market for an expansion team has "one thing right: The NBA should seriously look at expansion." Yesterday’s presentation was "effective in communicating why an NBA franchise could conceivably succeed in Montreal." However, "nothing would happen" unless the Molson family, which owns the Canadiens and Bell Centre, "are primary investors." That they "weren't part" of the announcement "was telling." The "real question" that stakeholders in Montreal would have to answer is "what having a team in Montreal would do for the other 30 (or 31 or more) teams in the league" (SPORTSNET.ca, 10/10).