Could baseball one day return to Montreal? A group of investors hopes so.
According to the Canadian Press, Montreal businessmen Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber have met Major League Baseball’s conditions to bring a team back to the city. Those conditions include financial stability, government support, and potential ballpark sites.
Here’s more from the Canadian Press:
“I can tell you we are no longer looking for investors and that we believe we have all the ingredients to be able to welcome a team, be it an expansion one or one that already exists,” the person said on condition of anonymity.
The source said the investors have a solid financial set-up, support from two levels of government, various potential locations for a stadium as well as at least five different designs for the venue.
“We are not going to say we favour one site or another,” the source said. “But it’s crucial for the (eventual) site to be well served by public transit.”
Now, just because a group of investors have met MLB’s conditions, it does not mean baseball’s return to Montreal is imminent. Hardly. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he wants the Rays and Athletics to get new ballparks before considering expansion, plus MLB would surely open up the bidding to multiple cities.
The Expos left Montreal following the 2004 season, when they relocated to Washington to become the Nationals. In their final season in Montreal, the club averaged less than 9,300 fans per game. Their average total attendance from 1998-2004 was a mere 834,920 fans per season. Only twice in their 36 seasons did the Expos draw more than two million fans, and never once did they draw more than 2.35 million.
It goes without saying MLB will be wary of bringing a team back to Montreal only to have the franchise struggle to develop a dedicated fan base. A new ballpark and an innovative ownership group will help, there’s no doubt about that. For now, the Montreal investor group is doing everything they need to do to show MLB they’re serious about bringing a team back to the city.