Friday, April 3, 2015

Weekend Must-Reads: Montreal Rays Rumors, Bud Selig's Honesty, and Rowdies Politicking

Ahead of MLB's Opening Day, it's a good time to get caught up on a lot of important sports business literature:
  1. Toronto Star - In the first of dozens of "Montreal Will Have a Shot at the Rays" stories this weekend, columnist Richard Griffin writes that Montreal was a victim of bad ownership...and "a calculated business move with villains around every corner."  He implies those same business decisions could be an opportunity for the city to land MLB again.
  2. The Guardian - In the second of dozens of "Montreal Will Have a Shot at the Rays" important question rises: "In a province that’s in debt, where using taxpayer funds for pro sports purposes can prove an extremely difficult a 35,000-seat stadium would be built in the largest North American city without a major league franchise, is the tough question which will eventually need answering."
  3. Washington Post - Let's look back at this 2004 story from Steve Fainaru; need evidence of why "private investors" aren't going to fund a half-billion dollar stadium in Montreal?  Bud Selig addresses a stadium's cost vs. revenues: "Can a ballclub build a stadium and survive? No."
  4. Florida Today - The legislature is cracking down on Fla. license plates that don't sell 4,000 plates a year.  But at the same time, they may introduce a new Tampa Bay Rowdies plate this year.  Forget the fact that the Rowdies are only averaging 5,000 fans per game; if you own a sports team and contribute to politicians, anything is possible!
  5. Bloomberg - NASCAR's much-heralded Hall of Fame in Charlotte is only five years old, but it's drawing just half of the promised number of visitors.  The publicly-financed facility just needed a fresh infusion of $5 million in bailout money.
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  1. Buying a team and financing a stadium with limited if no public money is the challenge in Montreal. However, CDPQ is probably the most realistic scenario to finance a stadium and even maybe a team. They have the cash, the assets and Bell Media is probably ready to do what Rogers did with the Jays, the Leaf, the Raptors and the Arena/stadium in Toronto.

    However, Mayor Coderre said yesterday: "Money is not a problem. Investors are serious, very serious. We need to think at different scenarios. And we need a plan (investments and stadium) to move forward. One step at a time, we are not yet at the stage to ask for money. And we know that a new stadium financed with public money is not the way to go"

    Stay tune, the mayor said that within 12 months, more details on the plan and the stadium will be released publicly. In the mean time, next step is a meeting with Manfred, agenda of the meeting is being finalized.

    Coderre is a very very good politician with tangible results. He love baseball (and sports in general), he love the city and he is very transparent. Probably one of the most honest and straight forward politician we had in Montreal in the last 15-20 years.

    Now I need to leave for the Big O, tonight game will be awesome with Russell Martin, Vladimir Guerrero, Joey Votto, Raines, Dawson, ...!

    What a weekend for baseball in Montreal!

    1. Enjoy the 30 degree weather tonight...Sounds really fun.

    2. Winter was way colder than 30 degrees. I think they'll handle it.

  2. Dear Montreal Fans,

    Just something to ponder. In the early 90's there were many headlines in the Tampa area Newspapers, such as:

    "Texas Rangers Moving to Tampa"
    "Deal Signed, San Francisco Giants moving to Tampa"
    "Chicago White Sox Moving to Tampa due to Fan Empathy and Lack of Public Funding"
    "City Council Denies Funding for New Mariners Stadium, Owner Says a Deal Will be Signed and Move to Tampa Imminent"
    "Texas Rangers Moving to Tampa due to Lack of Public Investment"

    Good luck getting a team Montreal. Keep in mind, it won't happen anytime soon. Not within 20 years anyway.


    Your Friends in Tampa Bay.

    1. Dear Tampa Bay Fans,

      Cheer for your team and fill the Tropicana Field. That's the best way to keep your team, get a new stadium (with private money) and help us getting an expansion team within 5-7 years with the internalization of Baseball (as per Manfred comments).

      Otherwise, there will be no expansion and Montreal will be more than happy to adopt your team. The good news is that with either scenarios, Montreal is happy.

      You control your own destiny and you don't need luck for this.


      Your Friends in Montreal.

  3. Barrage of hate (as per tweet from Noah Pransky)? Why would their be a barrage of hate? I don't think anyone in Montreal would wish that any market loses their baseball team. We know how it feels, we know how it hurts. It sucks. But at the end of the day, MLB is a business. If there's a franchise put up for sale, the group in Montreal will be ready I'm sure. But as the gentleman mentioned above, you control your own destiny. Fill the Trop, support your team, wear their colors proudly and get a new ballpark. I don't see how anyone in Montreal has anything to do with Tampa/St. Pete accomplishing all of those things? If the Rays, somehow, someway, end up moving to Montreal, the reason will not be because we coveted them, it will be because you didn't support them. So go support your team, don't finish last in attendance when you field a playoff caliber team and build a new ballpark.

    1. Well said.

      Sometimes, superlatives are used by journalists as a mean to get more exposure and attract readers. It's like using someone else picture to date people. When we see the person for real, we understand we were trapped. In the long run, such strategy is highly damageable for personal credibility. And remember, it's a small world.

      In Montreal, we talk with people paying tickets in the stands, with a unify plan/approach/strategy to get a baseball team. Like Matthew Ross from Expos Nations said: "It’s not about nostalgia anymore, It’s about looking forward."

      We are creative and innovative people (Cirque du Soleil, Luc Plamondon, Celine Dion, Habs, Moment Factory, Robert Lepage, Arcade Fire, Gilbert Rozon, Xavier Dolan) and we will find unique approach to get baseball back in town in a new stadium.

      And if Tampa Bay need help to find creative ways to get a new stadium, they need to start with step one like we did: Fill the stadium with paid tickets.

      Then we can help them to find solutions instead of planning workshops.

  4. Barrage of hate? Noah, you are spiralling into gutter tabloid reporting. We don't hate the Rays, Au contraire, we wish you well. Put butts in the seats as the previous poster said. The fate of the Rays is in your hands.

    Here's a prediction for you: Keep up with 10-12,000 in attendance and guess what? Longoria will be gone before the trade deadline. And so will begin the death march..

    1. I propose a workshop on which terms is more appropriated: Barrage of hate OR Rainbow of love for baseball?

    2. Yeah, poor choice of wording, that's for sure. I think the only guy that really hates Tampa Bay is that guy who always posts here about "St Pete being low class" and whatnot, and I don't think he's from Montreal.

      Surely you are better than that, Noah?

    3. Here are some of the "Hate the Rays" (sic) in the media today.

      Montreal Expos fans continue to display love of baseball, thanks to Toronto Blue Jays


      Jack Todd: Guerrero, Cabrera steal show at Big O

      It’s Time for Baseball to Return to Montreal


      John McHale fils: «C'est renversant!»

      So much hate folks against the Rays, I can't stand it!

  5. Official attendance of 46,314 for tonight's game, up about 200 from last year's Friday night game in Montreal.

    1. Irrelevant. People flock to spring training games in Ft. Myers, FL, Port Charlotte, FL, Clearwater, FL et al.,. Those cities won't be getting MLB anytime soon. The good thing for Montreal is that since people are showing interest, it may warrant a minor league baseball team for the city. The aforementioned cities have minor league baseball. Montreal could follow suit.

    2. Nope, no minor league for Montreal. It is out of question.

      For all the ones saying Montreal will not get a team anytime soon, you need to tell us why Manfred is talking about baseball in Montreal, why he accept to have two journalists from Montreal conducting interviews this week (Frédérick Dangle from CP and Pierre Durocher from Le Journal de Montréal)? Why Manfred talk about Mexico and Canada as the most probable next region to internationalized baseball?

      Manfred is not there just to manage the status quo. His first goal is to make sure baseball growth. And he must have a plan or a vision about expansion (32 teams is a perfect number do divide leagues in 4 section of 4 teams, playoffs/series will benefit from such simple structure).

      If Manfred is not interested in Montreal, if Manfred is not interested in expansion, if Manfred think that the Pesos and the Canadian dollars are an issue, then why the hell Manfred is addressing the topic not one time, but several time (LA Times interview, the interview in Boston few days after, the interview with the two Montreal journalists) All those interviews and comments and Manfred is the commissionner only since January 25th 2015!

      Why Manfred will accept to meet Mayor Coderre in the next few weeks? He has better things to do. If he takes the time, it's because he care and he feel that this is important. Especially when he just started as a commissionner.

      An no, it is not just a PR strategy to feed the Boogeyman.

      So continue the denial, it is a perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

    3. To the first Anonymous (we really need to get everyone to sign in), comparing a city like Montreal to the small areas that host grapefruit league games is ridiculous in every way. Population, media size, corporate base, not even close.

      The thing I don't get, in this whole situation, is why Rays fans don't come to games. With the Expos, there have been several books outlining why people stopped caring specifically, but not limited too, the stadium and location, the strike, lousy ownership, etc, but what is the story with Tampa Bay? The team has a 6 year run of success, with a World Series appearance among 4 trips to the playoffs, and yet attendance goes down. And aside from the stadium, what is the excuse? Traffic? Transplanted fans? Cause that doesn't happen in any other city?

  6. The Commissioner made it very clear that the message sent by Montreal with another year and nearly 100,000 people in attendance is a VERY relevant signal.

    Saying that the results in Montreal are irrelevant is an emotional response, devoid of facts. An empty Trop is also a VERY relevant signal.

    You would be best served by taking a sober approach at the situation down there and show your team support and go to the games.

  7. And this is why baseball is in Montrealer's DNA:


    This is probably one of the most touching story. Because we were kids and this is what we love, play with a ball with our friends.

    After the Hate of the Rays, this is the Rainbow of love ... of the game.


  8. Finally, the Mother of all the "Barrage of hate" media take.

    Tampa Bay fans, take note: Passion for baseball is greater in Montreal

    "Will the Rays move to Montreal? I'm not sure. But MLB can't ignore the overwhelming evidence that says they should."

    Tampa Bay Ray's fan, you have been warned. Fill the Tropicana Field now, in 2015. Don't wait to see what the end results of the workshops will be.

    And if a workshop on the way to fill the Tropicana Field is planned, show up and participate. Because the whole MLB planet is looking and care about your team, the players and the game.

    If the contract (Use Agreement) is more important than the game, then, the lawyers will step up (on both sides) and they will play a game that no ones will be a winner.

    Now, it's time for Playball!

    1. And the Mother of all the "Barrage of hate" facts is:

      "So, let's compare how the two markets have responded to their recent "special events."

      Attendance at the four Blue Jays games in Montreal:

      46,121 and 50,229 (2014);
      46,314 and 50,231 (2015).

      Average: 48,223.

      Attendance at the last four Rays postseason games in Tampa Bay:

      28,299 and 32,828 (2011);
      32,807 and 33,675 (2013).

      Average: 31,902."

      Tampa Bay fans, take note: Passion for baseball is greater in Montreal

      So, let's build a stadium in Tampa Bay with no public money (or very little) and no mass transportation system because we have a huge potential to fill the stadium when events/games are importants.

      And if we can filled it, don't worry, eyeballs are watching the game.

  9. Montreal will have it's day when baseball returns, but it won't involve the Rays. The Tampa Bay region, and central Florida itself has a huge population and more than enough fans to support this team.

    Mostly everyone who is a fan of the Rays knkws that the problem with attendance is the location of Tropicana Field and lack of means to get there in a timely manner. That's all. Everything else is fine. This will get figured out within another 2-3 years when everything has cooled down. Right now, tempers and emotions are prevailing and leading people, particularly St. Pete's council, to act like idiots about this situation.

    Each city council member needs to either say what would be acceptable terms for this relocation to happen, or they just need to get out of the way before their reputations become even further damaged. The name of the team is the Tampa Bay Rays. Not the St. Petersburg Rays.

    1. If it's only a question of location and everything is fine, why a pitch perfect site is required?

      Not a location perfect site, a pitch perfect one. And don't tell me the difference is only who's paying for (public VS private).

      What is missing (beside the perfect location and the financing) is the mass transportation system. And this is a $1.5-$2G investment. So when a workshop on this topic is planned? There's only 2-3 years left to figure it out.

    2. A "pitch perfect" site is preferred because we want our fans all across the region and central Florida to have much more easier accessibility to the stadium than what it currently is.

      Why wouldn't we want the next stadium to be in a more centrally located spot? As I alluded to, there is definitely a "lack of means to get there (the stadium) in a timely manner."

      The Tampa Bay region has plenty of fans that would easily put our attendance in the top half of draws in the league. This is why it is essential to build a stadium in the "right" spot.

  10. Unfortunately, even though there may be "passion" for MLB in Montreal, a MLB team won't be playing there again.

    1. Evenko asked the Jays for regulars MLB games next year in Montreal. 3 series of 4 games in 2016. Stay tune, regular games will probably be back sooner than what everyone expect. Even Montrealers!

  11. Stadium rumours in Montreal are starting to emerge. Bell Media is the key investor (it's written in the sky, they desperately need sports content). Like what mayor Coderre said April 2nd, money is not a problem, investors are serious, very serious, next step is a plan for the team and the stadium.

    It's only a rumour. But where there's smoke, there's fire.

    1. There were rumors in Tampa Bay for a decade before the region finally got a team.

    2. Noah, there always something before something of something not there that someone else have. The goal in Montreal is to get a team by 2020. So considering rumours started back in 2010, that's 10 years or a decade. Same process as the Rays!

      A snowball is composed of flakes, small flakes that mean very little if nothing when you look at the one by one. But a snowball mean something, especially when it is coming in front of you. And if you don’t recognized that a snowball is coming, then, it will hit hard.

      So rumours, 96 000+ people 2 years in a row at the Big O, meeting with Manfred, meetings with other MLB owners, meetings with Sternberg, Sternberg speaking french, ... all those things means very little because ... the team is in TB with a UA. We all get that.

      But we (and lot's of people) also get how many people are in the stands at the Trop., how many people showed up at the city council in December 2014 to back and support the Rays for a MOU, how loud are visiting teams fans in the Trop. at Rays home games, how a winning and competitive team (Rays) is not able to attracts more fans and more profitability in such large market, how weak is the mass transportation system in TB.

      And that means something, otherwise, we wouldn't be here commenting the news. And it is part of the snowball. In fact, TB started the snowball. And I can tell you when. When we saw in Montreal on TV few dozens (maybe hundreds) people in the stands during a baseball game back in 2011 or 2012 if I remember well. It was THE event that all started the process in Montreal.

      But the good thing, is that we have a debate with different point of views. So hopefully, such debate will influence decision makers and public opinion in order to consolidate the Rays in TB or to move the team if the community decide that this is not a priority. Like I said, the Rays will help Montreal get a team or Montreal will get the Rays. It will be one of the two.

      In Montreal, after so many years without any sports vision, we now have a mayor that is investing money but also time and resources in sports. Baseball is an important one, but not the only one. But this is not the topic here.

      And the reason why we have such a unified group, it's because of some private investors that started the process of getting a new baseball team in 2010 and Warren Cromartie that decided in 2012 to bring back baseball in Montreal.

      The movement is under way in Montreal and it is now accelerating with the new commissionner. And rumours and real facts will occurs and fuel debates in the next few years for sure. Don’t tell me that you don’t like that and you prefer a calm blog where we can ear crickets! ;)