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.Manfred: MLB working w/MTL in case "some club gets to point where its impossible to get MLB-quality facility built." https://t.co/BfBjfeoKyB— Shadow of Stadium (@StadiumShadow) April 3, 2016
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:
Don't you see it, Montreal fans? MLB loves you for the time and money you're willing to invest...in getting new publicly-funded stadiums built here in the U.S.
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.
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