Image credit: Photo by Vincent Ethier/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
This is part of a larger feature on possible MLB expansion. To see the full series, click here.
Perhaps baseball’s saddest tale of the last 30 years is the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C. in 2005. While the Expos’ attendance was critically low in their final years, fans have always been quick to say that if not for the strike in 1994, when the Expos were red hot, as well as poor ownership by Jeffrey Loria, things may have been different. No market has had more conversation about expansion or relocation than Montreal.
Population (CSA): 4,098,927 (rank: 14*)
Major Pro Teams: Canadiens (NHL), Alouettes (CFL), Impact (MLS)
Club That Claim Broadcast Market: Blue Jays
Four Businesses of Interest: Bell Canada, Air Canada, Bombardier Inc., CGI Group
Organized effort: Stephen Bronfman Group
Pluses: Bronfman, the son of billionaire Charles Bronfman, has assembled a solid group to try to lure MLB back to Montreal. That group includes Couche-Tard founder Alain Bouchard, Cirque du Soleil chairman of the board Mitch Garber, Stingray Digital Group Inc. CEO Eric Boyko and Garda World CEO Stephane Cretier. Beyond that, for the sixth consecutive year, the Blue Jays have hosted spring exhibition games at Olympic Stadium. Also, only the Blue Jays claim the Montreal market as part of their broadcast territory.
Minuses: Rightly or wrongly, the Expos attendance past continues to haunt their future. The other issue will be trying to secure public funding in Canada.
Open Questions: Can Bronfman get a ballpark built in the Peel Basin area in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood just outside downtown? The process is underway to purchase the land and could come to fruition before the end of the year. Maybe the only question is: Is MLB in Montreal Bronfman’s to lose? The market seems like a prime leader to fill an Eastern time zone expansion market for Manfred and MLB.