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Volume 25 No. 214
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Study Yields Positive Results For Possible MLB Return To Montreal

The study concluded that Montreal would be in the top half of existing MLB TV markets, ranking 12th out of 27
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

A group of investors trying to bring MLB back to Montreal released a market study "concluding the project would be viable and would generate strong interest among fans and the city’s business community," according to Frederic Daigle of the CP. The study, conducted by the proposed ownership group led by local businessman Stephen Bronfman, concluded Montreal "would be in the top half of existing MLB TV markets, ranking 12th out of 27." It also "places Montreal as the strongest among cities considered potential expansion sites, with the largest population, TV market and corporate base and the second-largest median household income." It also "does not name the other cities." Montreal "would have the 15th largest metropolitan population among MLB cities, the 18th highest median household income and the 19th most corporations" with annual sales of at least $5M and 25 or more employees. Interviews with 13 Montreal executives revealed that they "would all purchase season tickets and three-quarters of them would buy premium seating." The execs said that a downtown location for a new ballpark "would be very important and access by public transit essential." Bronfman said that the findings "have been shared" with MLB (CP, 12/14). Bronfman said, " At the end of day we don't control this process. We're doing everything in our power to get it done. I feel it's looking pretty good" (CBC.ca, 12/14). In Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said she is glad the study is "moving forward and moving pretty fast." Plante "reiterated that if there was any question of using city funds to build a stadium, she would hold a referendum to see if Montrealers were in favour of the move." She said, "I will be asking them what they think about it, because needs are so important in other areas" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 12/15).

IS IT HAPPENING? In Montreal, Jack Todd wrote MLB is "wending its way back ... one stately, cautious step at a time." Bronfman and group partner Mitch Garber "know precisely what they’re doing." But ultimately, MLB "will decide whether Montreal gets another franchise." All Bronfman, Garber and their partners can do is "get all their ducks in a row." Todd: "Is Montreal being played here? Used to extort a new stadium in Florida, the way Washington was once used in the attempt to get taxpayers to build a park for either Claude Brochu or Jeffrey Loria? The answer is probably affirmative -- but then Washington did eventually haul in the Expos" (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 12/16).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: THE ATHLETIC's Arpon Basu wrote the timing of the study being release was intriguing because it "came two days after Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg declared his team’s plan to build a new ballpark in Ybor City to be dead." But Bronfman "got the blessing" of MLB before releasing the study when he did, "about 10 days after it was completed and delivered to the ownership group." Basu: "Coincidence, kismet, whatever you want to call it, the timing of the release made the impact of that study far greater and extended its reach all the way down to the Gulf Coast of Florida." Bronfman: "We try and do things quietly and not step on toes, so from a distance -- and I’m not in daily contact with anyone in Tampa or Oakland or in New York. ... At the end of the day, it’s not disastrous in Tampa." Basu noted Montreal's Olympic Stadium is "far from an ideal building to host baseball games, but it can work on a temporary basis" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/14).