Saturday, March 29, 2014

Debate Continues Over Montreal's Viability

For as critical as the national media has been of Tampa Bay's support of the Rays, it has been surprisingly unsympathetic to Montreal's cause.  First the National Post, and now The Sporting News:
It sounds so easy: Move a low-revenue major league franchise, such as the Tampa Bay Rays, to Montreal. Olympic Stadium can be a temporary home, the city's population is large, and the fans loved the Expos before MLB gutted the franchise and sent it to Washington, D.C.
So why will the clamor will fall on deaf ears? MLB doesn't want to move a team or expand,
as commissioner Bud Selig told, and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg doesn't want to go anywhere.

"It is a great baseball city with very passionate people," Sternberg
wrote of Montreal in an email to The Wall Street Journal. "I cannot envision the Rays out of the Tampa Bay market, and we have no intention of attempting to move this team."
Bottom line: Those who want the tri-color caps and bilingual public address announcements back are out of luck.
Sure, this post doesn't provide much news, but its a tiny re-direction in the national debate MLB wants to facilitate: Where should the Rays play?

UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi remains in MLB's corner, clicking "publish" last night on a column he probably sketched out weeks ago.    "Fans prove baseball passion is alive and well in Montreal," the column contended, suggesting the league is giving real consideration to the prospect of returning:
Still, here’s what I believe: Because of a recent feasibility study — assuming a new downtown ballpark — and a growing (if understated) response from Montreal’s business community, MLB is giving Montreal’s effort the respect it deserves. The presence of McHale and Garagiola demonstrated that.

“I think this is going to be a very significant story after this weekend,” McHale told me, when I asked about the size of the crowd. “The continued enthusiasm for Major League Baseball here is remarkable. I think all of us in the commissioner’s office need to take notice of it.”
Morosi makes some good points, but the biggest disservice to readers is pushing the "Rays to Montreal" agenda without really addressing the giant 400,000-pound gorilla in the room: the $500M-$1B cost to actually make it happen.


  1. The problem with your comment about baseball in Montreal costing 500 to 1 billion, is the cost of keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay beyond 2027 is the same. Someone is going to have to fork over the money for a new stadium. And I doubt Sternberg is going to keep the Rays in the Trop permanently. If things don't change, he'd likely sell or move.

  2. Montreal suffered from a lot of problems that most Americans are not aware of starting in the early 80's.

    1. Because of the massive debt the Olympics caused, the voters in rage turned to the Parti Québécois and the anti-language laws they passed forced a major exodus of anglophones to Ontario including corporate sponsorship.

    2. Adding the roof in 1987 just made the stadium worse and by 1992 it was sealed shut. Quebec has 3 good weather months and asking fans to be in an indoor stadium WITHOUT A/C was a hard sell.

    3. In 1991 there was a structural problem that forced the Expos to play their last 13 home game on the road.

    4. The 1994 strike.

    I could go on but that franchise never got a fair shake.

    The Mayor of Montreal has a concept for a new stadium and the government funding could come by transferring the almost $350 million allocated to install a new roof at Stade Olympique. A Canadian media company 'Bell' is said to be interested.

    Sternberg can't say publicly that he wants to or is even thinking about leaving but it would be naive to think he is not watching what is happening in Montreal.

    1. Calling the Bell news "speculation" would be generous...there seems to be very little basis.

      Also, if Sternberg wanted to move to Montreal, he certainly could say it. He's not allowed to discuss stadiums with the city, but he could make his intentions clear.

      In fact, if Sternberg wanted out of St. Pete badly enough, he could just pay to break the contract. But clearly, paying to leave Tampa Bay is not on the team's radar.

  3. Lol, they Rays will never leave this area. It's too lucrative. Secondly, the City has some very powerful attorney's who in turn would end up costing baseball their anti-trust exemption. MLB knows this and does not want the headache.

  4. I find your posting on this issue to be historically somewhat defensive and I'm not quite sure why. Has anyone working on the project in Montreal ever said that they were trying to go after the Rays? No. Montreal is trying to build momentum to catch the attention of MLB. So why are you crapping all over it? Also with a study that recently came out that showed baseball was viable, and with 96,000 attending 2 meaningless games, how can you still continue to spout the same nonsense that Montreal is not a viable market? You make fun of JP Morosi simply pushing "publish" - it appears you just do the same thing without a thought to any research whatsoever. Why are you incapable of simply admitting that the Montreal market is potentially incredibly lucrative? Saying that baseball failed there once is not the answer as to why it can't work there now and again, merely demonstrates your poor grasp on the facts surrounding the history of baseball in Montreal, the evolution of the local media landscape and why baseball failed there in the first place. Also, your comment on Twitter about exhibitions drawing similar numbers to Montreal in other cities is so wildly off-base. When has a city drawn 96,000 people for 2 meaningless games where the fans have no affinity whatsoever to the home team? The Astros and Rangers just played 2 games in San Antonio and drew 49,000 for the 2 games. I mean, c'mon man. You could at least bother to do a little bit of research before churning out these blog posts. It's a total and utter disservice to your readers. You should consider doing some research into actual facts before publishing something. Journalism 101, no?

  5. If you listen to CKGM ( TSN 690 ) you will find that Bell is watching with great interest. TSN/RDS NEEDS content badly with the Jays on Sportsnet and now having lost the national hockey TV contract to Rogers.

    My hope is that the Rays can strike a deal and build a new park where the Yankees spring training complex is now and in turn the Yankees move spring training to St Pete.

    All this weekend did was wake up the sleeping giant that is Montreal. To ignore Montreal could be a fatal mistake just like what happened in 1991 when Tampa Bay dismissed Miami's baseball expansion bid.

  6. The corporate sponsorship potential of Montreal should scare the crap out wanting the Rays to stay in Tampa. And considering Quebec has built an NHL arena in Quebec city with 100% public funding on the hopes of getting a team shows their considerably more open public funding than Tampa.

  7. No matter what problems Tiny Sports Net (how it's known in the biz) has NOBODY IN MLB IS INTERESTED IN MOVING FRANCHISES OR EXPANSION.
    Only Expo necrophiliacs are, pining for something they let get away regardless of all the excuses they use. Montreal is and will be the odd man out for quite a long time.
    Yanks & Steingrabbers have their power base in Tampa not St. Pete, makes no sense for them to willingly uproot. Think like an owner not an emotional fan.