Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why MLB Loves Montreal (Hint: It's Not Why Expos Fans Think)

We see a lot of Montreal fans talking about recruiting the Rays from Tampa Bay...or convincing MLB to expand to 32 teams.  But those Montreal fans fail to see the league's rich history of deception...and how much more valuable they are to MLB owners without a team.

As Peter Gammons has explained, MLB's business model depends on having a city like Montreal to "blackmail" all other MLB cities with...and Denis Coderre couldn't play more perfectly into the league's hand:
MLB's leveraging is well-documented, including in a 2015 book by Frank Morsani, "Betrayed by Baseball."  Morsani writes how the league repeatedly mislead/lied to him in efforts to advance its own interests and get new stadiums built in existing markets.  Obviously, it worked.

But for a deeper dive into MLB strategy, I turn to a 2010 article in the Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, which also documents how MLB leveraged its anti-trust exemption into billions of dollars worth of publicly-funded stadiums.

The whole thing is worth a read, but one citation worth highlighting includes a passage from Mark Rosentraub's "Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It":
Like any business, professional sports teams can increase their profits if they reduce or eliminate competition. Most businesses must accomplish this objective by producing the best possible product at the lowest price. The professional sports leagues, however, have been able to establish a protected environment and eliminate competition while maintaining the illusion of a free market. All the professional sports leagues are, in reality, cartels or private business associations insulated from the competitive pressures of a free market. These cartels control the number of teams that exist, allowing association members to extract subsidies and welfare from state and local governments that want one of the controlled franchises located within their borders.
In short, even if Stu Sternberg wanted to move to Montreal or sell to investors there, the league must sign off on it too.  And even if Montreal wants to fund a new franchise, it doesn't mean squat unless MLB wants to risk feeding more hungry mouths through revenue sharing.

Then there's this excerpt from noted economist Andrew Zimbalist, written in 2003 for the Brookings Institution:

Baseball’s monopoly allows it to restrict artificially the number of franchises and to dally with cities that have no team—to hold out to them the elusive promise of a franchise, pressuring existing host cities to build new stadiums or otherwise do MLB's bidding. As a consequence, cities and states compete against each other, leading to exorbitant stadium-financing packages and sweetheart leases. Cities have attempted on their own to include lease provisions that deter team relocation and provide a more equitable sharing of the facility returns. But usually only the largest cities have sufficient bargaining leverage to accomplish even part of these aims.
Don't you see it, Montreal fans?  MLB loves you for the time and money you're willing to getting new publicly-funded stadiums built here in the U.S.

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  1. "Don't knock the hustle", because it's how we, in part, got the Rays, with the Trop as a barganing tool, then, the (D)Rays paid off the Trop w/ a steady stream of out-of-town revenue year after year for StPete.
    So the cycle continues, "newsflash", its sales tactic 101, change the customers choice from yes or no to an either or!
    And, "cartels" sometimes aren't the worst things, ask Columbia how things were before & after Escobar?
    So again Noah, dont knock the Rays tactics & hustle, because when they're settled into Tampa for lil investment, and doing lots of good in our & for our community for generations, your going to feel pretty stupid for being part of the opposition for so long...

    1. Not opposition, my friend. Watchdog. Encourage new stadium...don't encourage mindless subsidies without due diligence.

    2. Fyi, a "watchdog" minds his own business until him or hia area is provoked, being "part of the opposition" steadily provokes his beliefs & opinions against something, like taxes for stadiums...

    3. You do so much to diminish your own credibility, Dufala.

  2. Frank Morsani’s commitment, back in the 1980’s, to 100% privately finance building of the stadium in Tampa had to be avoided by MLB at all costs. That would have set a very bad precedent for MLB. During the ‘soon to follow’ Bud STEALig era (1992-2015), 21 new MLB stadiums were built, 20 of which received substantial public funding.

  3. Well, no Rays news, and only two comments on my last story, better dust off another Montreal story.

    Is it possible to folks in TB are in on the hustle too, and that's why they stay home? Make the ballpark appear undesirable, so they can help build a new one for Stu? Either way, only 73,172 people showed up for the four game Opening Series.

    Obviously, MLB likes to have a city they can use to threaten cities into new stadiums. It doesn't work if Rob Manfred shows up for a press conference in Burlington, Vermont (despite their great 100 year old diamond). That being said, maybe more research should be done into the last city that refused to build a new park, and had a dwindling (albeit alienated) fanbase. I believe they call themselves the Washington Nationals these days.

    If you are waiting for a blank check from MLB, you are going to be disappointed.

  4. Every post about Montreal, their push for a new team seems to make gains. First we said don't worry, 96,000 for 2 games means nothing. Then we said don't worry, they have no stadium or owner. Now, if you do just a little bit of googling, you find out that they have owners waiting behind the scenes, and a few sites for a stadium (according to Warren Cromartie).

    So I ask you, how is "a few sites" and no financing plan any different than what we have here in the bay area?

    All we need here is a couple more years of stalemate and we have a problem. Say what you will about the 2027 use agreement, but we already know that a relatively small (for billionaires) amount of money can ammend it.

    Also, may I remind people that the large markets that were used as threats (Toronto, Tampa Bay, Washington, etc) ended up getting a team. Most by expansion, but still worth something.

    1. We have potential investors with deep pockets who emphatically assert that when the MLB will be ready they will be ready.

      They wait behind closed doors without making too much noise just to make sure to avoid the risk of displeasing the league.

      We have some locations where to put the new ballpark that are already being reinvigorated. We have transportation infrastructure projects in development with the train route that go directly where we plan to build a new ballpark.

      We have a mayor that publicly said many times that there are several ways to contribute financially with public money to build a new stadium.

      So, when you made the effort to try to connect the dots, you realized that several things point towards the returning of the MLB to Montreal.

      We understand that currently the MLB likes to have us as a threat.

      In the next five years the league will have no choice but to decide whether to continue with Tampa Bay and Oakland market. If so, it's perfect like that, then they could start their expansion plan.

      Then Montreal and probably Mexico City will be the top candidates.

      Otherwise, even if MLB decides that the Rays and the A's must be relocated, the league can still choose to go ahead with its expansion project. Charlotte could then host the Rays and Portland the A's.

  5. St Pete's philosophy has been don't you dare try to steal our team, but we can go after yours-San Francisco, Chicago, Texas, Seattle, etc.!

  6. The guy who writes this blog clings to the use agreement like it's some kind of a safety blanket that will be a cure-all. It is not. When you are potentially making a $1.5B deal, which is what this deal would be to the city of Montreal, throwing in an extra $50M to get out of the use agreement is a pittance. $75M? Also fine. At some point, it will come down to this: St. Pete will have to accept that the team is leaving. So, they can wait until 2027 and continue to rock back and forth in the fetal position saying "use agreement, use agreement" over and over again and get $0 compensation, or they can negotiate a deal sometime in 2017 with 10 years left on the deal and take a fat cheque, plus the ability to redevelop 100 acres in supposedly burgeoning downtown St. Pete. If your local politicians don't consider that offer seriously, they are doing your community a disservice.

    1. I agree with Anonymous. The Use Agreement and then penalty means nothing in a $9B industry. In a game of paying lawyers, who will run out of money first? St Pete? Likely. MLB? Not a chance.

    2. If coming up with $1.5B was so easy, I don't think Quebec and Canada would be having so many struggles with what to do with their growing debts...

    3. ^^^ LOL - is that a joke? City of Montreal just announced a SURPLUS of $175M this morning. Province of Quebec has a balanced budget. Federally, Canada just announced a deficit spending budget which would still bring its debt/GDP ratio NOWHERE NEAR the US. That said, the State of Florida has been burned by our old pal Jeffrey Loria once before. Something tells me that this may be an ironic twist of fate for those wanting baseball back in Montreal. Fool me once...

    4. Noah, I suggest that you don't go on the taxes, debts, economical, education cost, health system, political side of things.

      That's the dark side of the moon and your blog is on the shadow side of the stadium!

      Just Hydro-Quebec, our biggest asset for decades, can crunch most of your arguments. Imagine if one day, your AC/HP equipment in Tampa Bay rely on Hydro-Quebec green power/electricity!

      Are you feeling the heat now? ;)

    5. I don't pretend to be an expert on anything Canadian except its first-class anthem. But you can't pretend $1.0-$1.5B is going to be anywhere close to as easy as some fans suggest!

    6. Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber pretend that money is not an issue, even at $1B to $1.5B.

      Stephen's father net worth is $2.5B, Rossy family net worth is $1.5B and Bell Media have $5B available.

      And I forgot to mention 5-10 more investors the are lined-up (Mitch Garber, Stéphan Crétier, ...) that all worth several hundred of millions each.

      I pretend that this is a hell of a good short list of local investors to start with. Don't you?

    7. Noah, we never suggested it would be easy. That being said, you often comment without any arguments to support your claims. As Pat said, investors are ready and they are very wealthy. The board of trade of metropolitan MTL and the mayor (to name a few) are working hard to make the expos a reality and yes, it will happen. Investors did say during MLB weekend here that money would not be a problem. You really do underestimate the facts that are written on this blog!

    8. Investors claiming they have the money isn't exactly a "fact"...

  7. Please don't pretend to know what people of Montreal might think and knows!

    We the people of Montreal understand the feeling and have sympathy towards Tampa Bay and Oakland fans. We all know what it's like to hear about how we going to lose our team without being able to change anything about it.

    Montreal Expos fans can absolutely relate to the pain, the fear and the annoyance the people of Tampa Bay and Oakland are feeling with the threat of losing their Major League Baseball team.

    We're all aware that there are reasons behind thin crowds. And those thin crowds doesn't automatically mean they are there because they are bad baseball markets.

    Suffering of small attendance is only a symptom. The challenge is more complex than just attendance.

    The location of the Trop in St. Pete is one part of your market's problem. The lack of public transportation is one even bigger! The Tampa Bay area needs mass transit like in a hurry!

    And that would cost around at least $2 billion! And that's without even putting a lone penny of that money for a Ballpark. So, if Tampa or any city around the Bay area are really genuine about their wills to build a State of the Art Venue for baseball, they absolutely had to think about mass transit first!

    However, like I said your baseball market is perhaps not as wobbly as it may seem at first sight.

    Rays' TV ratings are really surprising. And this is a good thing for you!

    However, the Rays receive one of the smaller fee for broadcasting rights of any team in the league.

    We thought that the broadcasting contract was set to expire in 2016, but if we trust the words of Sternberg it's possibly not the case anymore.

    Currently, Fox Sun Sports is paying the Rays about $20 million per year for the rights to broadcast games locally. That's way below league average.

    A deal at around $60-70 million per year would be a huge boost to revenue and payroll flexibility for you.

    You have a decent metropolitan demographic to support a franchise in the MLB. However, it's composed largely of expatriate that have no sense of civic pride in local products.

    And you have to admit it; you have a large part of your population composed of retired folk.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing. They have the time and enough money to support the team. But, they are also widely recognized for not moving out of their home very often.

    Touristically, you're a very attractive place. But, quite honestly, your beaches and cruises' Port terminal are both much more charming than the Rays, them that are lost somewhere in the middle of south St. Pete.

    Essentially, what we claim in relation to distressed markets in the league is that they can be viable in the right circumstances. Each market has its own matters and its own challenges to overcome. Though, all we want is to everybody know that Montreal is more than ready to be back in the Show!

    There are markets like Mexico City or Monterrey in Mexico that seem to also draw the Commissioner's attention. We also got to say that Charlotte, Portland, San Antonio/Austin and perhaps even Vancouver all waiting patiently for their turns to obtain an MLB's franchise.

    All we can do is positioned ourself as the number one market on the MLB's list to be the next candidate to obtain a ball club.

    But, quite honestly, we would rather have an expansion team because we know what it felt to see our team being robbed by another city!

    The only thing we can do is to remain vigilant on both cases of the Rays and A's. Although, again like I said earlier, we rather have an expansion team. The league would win if they come out to have 32 teams!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. We know that Sternberg must write down his real intentions by 2018. The St. Pete City Council demanded it when they approved the new MOU.

      Does he want to stay at the Trop or not beyond 2027 as it was decided in the original use agreement?

      It will depend if he managed to find public funding for a new ballpark, whether it's in Pinellas and Hillsborough County.

      But as I said, it will depend on much more imperative that only a new stadium. Mass transit. Corporate support. TV broadcasting deal, at least in the average of the league. All this are not something that turns on a dime!

      You can call us "vultures" and even worse because we're focused on your situation. Fair enough. It's part of the game.

      Washington played that role for us when we were in your situation. You also played that role for markets like San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago (White Sox), Cleveland and probably more before you got your own team.

      We're also well-aware that we're a market in "stand-by" which serves as excellent threat for the owners who are trying to make things happen in their own market.

      But, don't believe that if things eventually materialize in Tampa Bay that the threat of Montreal "Boogeyman" had no effect. Sternberg mentioned it last week. He sent an arrow right in the middle of the heart of your local corporation and businessmen, telling them to wonder what if the Rays weren't in the area anymore. Would they be led by the same kind of support that drives Montreal?

      It's a fair question. When we had our franchise, we didn't have that kind of momentum. Many people realized what they had only once they have lost it.

      You are lucky to still have your franchise. So take yourself your own destiny in your hands. This is a long journey before you can recover your club!

      Regardless of your situation, the only thing we can do is to let the MLB know that we are more than ready!

  8. Noah, you must think that we are like a bunch of loved crazed fools in Montreal. Too much in love that we don't see reality.

    We know exactly what is happening, yes, we are being used. That's the MLB game. Five years ago, there were no suitors, now Montreal has stepped up to the plate - big time.

    With each passing year, Montreal keeps getting its act together and Tampa Bay kicks the can down the road some more.

    I suggest you stop the tabloid journalism and throwing smarmy platitudes at Montreal and work hard to keep your team. Because when they're gone, they're gone... and it hurts.

    Believe me,,,

  9. ^^^Very well said. The sad truth is also that this blog is being overtaken by Montrealers. Where's the passion, Rays fans???

    1. Tampa is committed to MiLB, not MLB. Goven the following, why bother with the last place Rays?

    2. To be fair, the Rays haven't been anywhere near last place in the standings since 2007. Unless of course we're talking about attendance, then they are totally last place. It's a real shame too, because they've been a great team to watch. But if you have trouble selling out the Trop when you are clinching a division, then a .500 team doesn't have a chance.

  10. They haven't been a great team to watch. Look at their hitting stats since 2010.The Rays haven't done accomplished much since 08, when they made it to the World Series. Sure, they've made the playoff's a couple of times but lost in the first round each time. The Rays haven't been in the playoff's since 2012. Need to do more than that if you want more attendance. The bottom line of course, is that attendance doesn't matter. If it did, the Marlins would no longer be in Miami. They have a new stadium now, so you won't hear about attendance as it relates to them, even thought they are on par with the Rays attendance wise. It's all about subterfuge with MLB.

    1. Guess we have a different idea of what great is. I'd say 6 years of winning baseball, several postseason appearances, all the while operating on a shoestring budget compared to you division is pretty great. I bet fans in Miami, Seattle, Milwaukee or San Diego would kill for that kind of consistency. And when you factor in how lousy this team was prior to 2008, fans should be happy that this team can actually be competitive. Just because they lost a few 5 game series in October doesn't make the rest of the season a failure. And it shouldn't affect attendance negatively. Look at DC. They've had 4 straight winning seasons, lost in the opening round in 2012 and 14, failed to make the Wild Card in 13 and 15, and yet they averaged a mere 17K more people per game in 2015. And this was a team that had back to back 100 loss seasons not that long ago.

      It's really very simple, and going to come to a head when tax dollars get involved. Either TB is a baseball market, or it isn't. The TV numbers aren't going to save them forever, especially considering how little they make, and are expected to make moving forward. As for Miami, I'd say it's no coincidence that Loria and Samson are in charge of a poorly attended team. I feel like I've heard that story before...

    2. Yeah we definitely have a different idea of what great is. I go by statistics and math, the fact that the team hasnt made the playoffs in four years isn't great. You can come on here and try and shoot everything down like a petulant child, that's fine but attendance does not matter that much anymore. Go do your research and realize that just because you desire something doesn't mean it will happen or that your assumptions forecasts have merit .

    3. Major-league baseball will be thinking long-term and there's much more upside long term to Tampa Orlando area in Florida as a whole from that perspective compared to what Montreal could ever be.

    4. Humm...

      While I do think the Tampa Bay (and Orlando) market have lots of potential, don't underestimate Montreal.

      With 756K viewers for Game #5 between Texas and Toronto in 2015 at RDS (french network only), a peak at more than 10M in Canada (in english at Sportsnet), such number for MLB games for a team in Toronto (it's not a market close to Montreal) will probably be closer to 1.5M to 2M if the Expos are back (in french only).

      Remember that Expos are and will be popular not only in Montreal, but also in the maritimes, in southern Ontario, in Vermont and Maine in the US.

      Just the value of such TV deal will probably be 2x if not 3x higher than the next Rays TV/radio deal.

      Also, guess which team in the MLB generate the most $$$ with licensed products? NY Yankees.

      And guess which team is #2 in $$$ generated? Expos! And the team does not even exist for 10 years!

      So with all the respect I have for the TB/Orlando region (I've been few times there for few weeks and love the region), don't say things like you just did, with an Anonymous name, you loose a lot of credibility.

      A city like Montreal cannot get all the attention that they have right now by Manfred and the MLB owners just because we are friendly people and we have fans on social networks.

      Money talks and money from Montreal talked. Ultimately, it's all about money, you know that and we know that.

    5. Well Anon, first you say the Rays need better results to get better attendance, then you say that attendance doesn't matter that much anymore. You say you study your stats and math, but overlook that the Rays made the playoffs in 2013, which was three seasons ago. But hey, maybe I'm just being a petulant child. I could say the same of your Steinbrenner-like expectations of the Rays though.

      Either way, we can argue over whether or not the Rays are great, but the point is moot. People are voting with their wallets, and right now the team is not "must-see". The region will again have to vote with their wallets when the time comes to pay for a new stadium. And maybe after 20 years the Tampa/Orlando market will grow as you expect it will. In any event, this will not affect baseball returning to Montreal, aside from whether it is an expansion team, or the Rays themselves. Personally I hope for the former, but you can't ignore that someone like Stu, or the other owners and their revenue sharing payments, will get tired of waiting for this market to develop.

  11. If you want to see the Expos have a good season, shorten it with a strike... lol
    If you want to finally see Expos fans attend a baseball game, give'em false hope of getting their team back... lol

    1. Ha.*

      *Definition: ha

      When you say or type "ha" the general understanding is that you "had a little laugh", because the joke wasn't any good or interesting, but the actual thing that is in your mind when saying or typing it is "how annoying..." ("ha" is used as acronym)

  12. 10k last
    Just in case you were not aware
    from a Montreal friend

    1. After 5 games in 2015, YOY attendance growth (compared to 2014) was +23.8%. The 2015 year end-up with YOY growth of -13.7% (-198 796).

      After 5 games in 2016, YOY attendance growth (compared to 2015) is -12.2%. I know, it's only 5 games, but hey, that's a hell of a false start.

      Now I understand why Sternberg is more vocal on lack of corporate support, lack of community support.

      That means the message behind closed doors does not have any impact on attendance and the only way to make sure the message is clear is to say it loud and clear. Ultimatums with a strong sense of urgency is probably the next step.

    2. It's about being realistic folks. It's great there are some fans in Montreal and it's great that you care enough about a baseball team in Montreal to post opinions. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, Montreal will be in for a long, long, waiting game, and in all probability won't be an MLB city again. It's about TV market growth and long term potential, not so much attendance. I know some pretty credible that sources that indicate a new stadium will be built on the outskirts of the Channelside area in Tampa. Funding, etc., are already in the works.

    3. You've said it all. TV market and potential.

      So here are some TV ratings (viewers, not household). The top 15 in 2015 in English only in Canada.

      1. Super Bowl, New England vs. Seattle, Feb. 1, CTV: 8,200,000
      2. World junior hockey final, Canada vs. Russia, Jan. 5, TSN: 6,000,000
      3. ALCS Game 6, Blue Jays at Royals, Oct. 23, Sportsnet: 5,120,000*
      4. ALDS Game 5,  Rangers at Blue Jays, Oct. 14, Sportsnet: 4,880,000
      5. ALDS Game 4, Blue Jays at Rangers, Oct. 12, Sportsnet: 4,380,000
      6. ALDS Game 3, Blue Jays at Rangers, Oct. 11, Sportsnet: 4,210,000
      7. Grey Cup, Edmonton vs. Ottawa, Nov. 29, TSN: 4,100,000
      8. ALCS Game 1, Blue Jays at Royals, Oct. 16, Sportsnet: 3,940,000*
      9. World junior hockey semifinal, Canada vs. Slovakia, Jan. 4, TSN: 3,900,000
      10. ALCS Game 2, Blue Jays at Royals, Oct. 17, Sportsnet: 3,850,000*
      11. Stanley Cup Round 1 Game 6, Canadiens at Senators, April 19, CBC: 3,770,000
      12. ALCS Game 3, Royals at Blue Jays, Oct. 19, Sportsnet: 3,640,000*
      13. Stanley Cup Round 1 Game 3, Canadiens at Senators, April 19, CBC: 3,490,000
      14. ALCS Game 5, Royals at Blue Jays, Oct. 21, Sportsnet: 3,450,000*
      15. Stanley Cup Round 2 Game 5, Lightning at Canadiens, May 9, CBC: 3,380,000

      * Viewers on American channels not measured

      So within those Blue Jays numbers, there are viewers from Quebec (let's say 50 000 to be conservative). And some viewers outside Quebec will also watch Expos games, for sure. Let's say 10%. That means between 350K and up to 500K.

      Then, add-up the french TV ratings (which are probably 10x Quebec english viewers ratings), which is another 500K.

      So considering that one Blue Jays games attracted up to 756K viewers in french only, We can say that average ratings will be between 500K and 1M and during the peaks, it can easily go up to 1.5M to 2M.

      Again, what are Rays TV ratings average? 78 000 households (or ~300 000 viewers).

      Let me know when these Rays number will double or triple. Because it will take more than 25% or 50% increase to be at the Expos potential average.

      BTW, I never talked about attendance, right?

    4. Which about what the Expos drew per game, but I know, I know, it was the stadiums fault, fyi thats what Rays fans say...

    5. Again, B. Dufala, you demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of the Expos history and chain of events. You're the 1 546 897th persons that use that argument in the last 20 years without taking time to understand what happened.

      You add no value to the debate by saying that my friend.

    6. B. Dufala, 10k with no ownership, threat of contraction, a failed stadium plan, fire sales, should I add more? I'd qualify that as pretty good don't you think?
      And your reasons are??

    7. AnonymousApril 13, 2016 at 1:53 PM - "I know some pretty credible that sources that indicate a new stadium will be built on the outskirts of the Channelside area in Tampa. Funding, etc., are already in the works."

      And how is a stadium "on the outskirts" going to help attendance or TV ratings for that matter? Unless by outskirts you mean another country

    8. Dufala's been telling us to "take it to the bank" for three years:

  13. Expo necrophilia brought on by spoon-feeding 2 games that don't count and charging close to post-season tix prices. Helps that the Hab's stink and it's an excuse to get out of the house without the chill while winter's grip is still strong.
    As Noah points out, MLB - like the other big time sports industries - needs a dupe market to strong-arm the incumbent markets.
    All the ass-umptions thrown about the "readiness" of the market conveniently ignore the "unsuitable" big owe would have to be used for several years and the fact that there's no solid evidence for financial support of a franchise for 10+ years. Not even at the minor league level, of which the 'biz has all but abandoned north of the border with only ONE affiliated (short season) franchise left after there were as many as 12 spread across the country.
    Jays and Rogers are trying to extend their franchises' reach into an empty market, that's why they would go to the trouble of 2400 mile short turn around round trip to and from Florida for the 2nd time in 3 years. It benefits them financially, that's what counts.

    1. Your minimal knowledge of the facts and the chain of events since 2010 discredit your reasoning.

      Again, Big O is not an option to get a baseball team in Montreal, MLB will have all the guarantees required that a new downtown stadium will be build in order to let a team play in Montreal.

      A team "could" play few years in the Big O while the stadium is under construction, but the stadium must be under construction. There's no question about that.

      I believe that if Montreal get an expansion team, the stadium will be built for game #1. It it's a relocation, Big O will be used few years.

      And no, Montreal will not build a stadium like Quebec city did with the Videotron Center. The context is completely different. Quebec city needed a new arena, Pepsi Coliseum was too old to even think renovating it to have a state of the art facility for events, shows, hockey games.

      Regarding financial support of a franchise for 10+ years, the economics of MLB teams in 2016 and beyond are not the same as it was in 2004 and before.

      Montreal play an important role back in 1994 to shape the new MLB economic model with sharing revenues. That's something that all MLB fans must remember, especially the youngest ones.

    2. "Helps that the Habs stink"

      Yeah, I could only imagine how low ticket sales for the two games would be if the Habs were about to be in the playoffs. Oh wait, they made it in 2014 and 2015, yet the Montreal MLB games still drew 96K people both years. Funny thing how people said that they'd never fill the stadium, yet they did, and then they'd never do it again, and they did for another two years. But who cares cause it's only two exhibition games that don't matter. I'd say that if they only drew 30K, that would have mattered BIG TIME to the potential return of the Expos. But hey, it's more fun to be a naysayer than actually do research and be objective. The team's not coming back because you think so. The whole movement is just a couple Quebecers picketing the MLB offices. Please note the sarcasm, and make friends with google. There's been great progress.

      Is relocation less likely than expansion? Probably. But let's think for a second. You're $tu, and you finally found the "pitch perfect" location, but you can't get enough public money to make it happen. Maybe you're $100 million short. All the while, you can't draw flies (10K last night). Are you willing to spend more of YOUR money to make this park happen, for a fanbase that doesn't show up regardless of your record?

  14. Well said. I'd also venture to say that Stu won't put up 1/3 - 1/2 of his own money to finance a ballpark so that he can go from 30th in the league in attendance to 26th. If you read the Rays stadium vision document, the first point is assessing corporate support before even talking about ballpark construction. Sadly, there isn't much there. And it won't be much better in Hillsborough. Pinnelas you can forget about. The sad reality is that the entire state of Florida is oversaturated with sports teams. The Tampa-St. Pete market is oversaturated in particular, and let's face it, is not the richest demographic either. And, the TV market isn't so top notch either despite what some would have you believe. Averaging 96,000 viewers per game (per Forbes) on TV is babkes, I don't care if it puts you in the top 15 in MLB. Look at the ludicrous TV numbers being recorded in Canada for the Jays. It's apples and oranges. In Montreal, the Habs draw a million viewers on average per game, say they drew half that (500K) for an Expos game, it would still be 5x what the Rays draw in Tampa-St. Pete. So What exactly is the long-term play here for Stu and the Rays in that region? From a financial perspective, I really don't see it. Unless he's just the nice, civic-minded guy everyone says he is and he's willing to just break-even and run a mediocre baseball franchise for the rest of his life because he's afraid of offending people by relocating his team. Or he's an ex-Goldman partner and a very shrewd businessman. Or something in between. But geez, people of Tampa-St. Pete, by not showing up to games, you are not offering him compelling evidence to keep his team there. Not having corporate support is disastrous. What is in it for him to keep his team there, even if he finds the pitch perfect site, even if somehow he can pull off 2/3 public financing? Why would he do it? I'm still not seeing it. You're digging your own grave by not supporting a well performing team on the field. The Rays were in a pennant race a couple of seasons ago and drawing 10K fans per game in August. That's an untenable situation folks. Sorry for being brutally honest.

    1. I will only point out that the TV ratings in the US (based on Forbes) are in households, not viewers. A ratio of 4 viewers per household should be applied to have a rating that can be compared to what we have in Canada.

      But even with those number, TV ratings in Canada are way higher than what we can see in the US.When you have a peak of 11M fr a Blue Jays game in a country of 35M (and you must exclude Quebec with a population of 8M), that's almost 50% of the population watching a game!

      So if attendance is not the issue and TV ratings is king, Canada is an extraordinary good kingdom for MLB!