On the surface, a return of MLB to Montreal seems fairly complicated. You’ve got egos, business, cities competing, and currently struggling franchises to navigate through. But there is a roadmap to the Expos returning to the city and it’s much simpler than it looks on the surface.
Before I dive into each issue over the next week or so, here’s the bulk of what it looks like from a very broad point of view:
Not only is the roadmap simple, but if you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, some of these have been getting closer to fruition than most realize. Like a train reaching the end of a tunnel, there seems to be light on the horizon and it’s close enough to pay close attention to – thus the creation of this site and some buzz about whether or not MLB will in fact return to Montreal.
The first thing we’ll take a close look at tomorrow are the stadium issues in both Tampa Bay and Oakland, where recent developments have shifted how both situations may or may not be resolved. A quick note on each: the Raiders move to Las Vegas may benefit the A’s who can now pressure the city into being more accepting to resolve their issues, and St-Petersburg has made its case for the Rays remaining in TB with mixed reviews.
While it would be nice to inherit a team with an established scouting, minors, and front office (for the most part), the more likely scenario – for now – remains expansion. While the road to Montreal in this case would be much clearer, there are no guarantees and the city’s still going to have to make a very strong case for a team in order to obtain rights to an expansion franchise. Only 2 are likely to be allowed in, so Montreal will have to stand out and be on very solid footing.
With ownership being the most pressing issue there, one strong enough to get a stadium build and pay for expansion rights, it may still be the most pressing issue of all. We all know that a plummeting Canadian dollar can impact finances of an MLB franchise in Montreal, so whoever decides to lead the charge as the owner(s) of the team will have to be able to weather through some tough seasons.
Location, location, location. Just ask the Rays how important location is when building a stadium. And if you saw as many games in Montreal as I did, you know that there’s something to be said for an outdoor stadium over an indoor cement filled stadium. Hey, if Minnesota can do it, so can Montreal, right? Expect a state of the art stadium to be presented, and I’ve got a few potentially exciting partners in mind on this front, so look for that article.
Stadium Naming Rights
The partners in stadium building can also benefit from acquiring naming rights, something that’s been worth as much as $20M per season recently. If the Expos were to provide a partner with 20 years of naming rights, it could help offset much of the costs of building the stadium, making the overall cost low enough to make a franchise bid worthwhile to savvy investors.
Once the franchises are decided on, it’s our hope that MLB returns to Montreal and reloads a fan base that will support baseball more steadily than any other city could. So long as there’s labour peace the next time the franchise is at the top of the standings, it should be smooth sailing from there on out and great things should come from having MLB return to Montreal.
This series of articles will be completed with an overall business plan (board based) that makes the case for a professional baseball franchise in Montreal.