Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is Montreal on the radar?

It is interesting to think that there might yet be a day that there will be a Major League Baseball team in Montreal again. There is little chance that an expansion team would be granted to the city but re-location is a real possibility. There have been whispers that Tampa could be a prime candidate to be such a team. That would be the perfect deal for the fans in the city and still work for MLB. Montreal, is an eastern city. Tampa, an American League East team. Toronto a natural geographic and cultural rival and would fit nice and snug with other teams that are already in the area (NY, BOS, BAL, TOR).

Why did the team leave in the first place? Bad ownership, a lack of interest or inability to help from the corporate community given the economic reality at the time. There was and is also the issue that there needs to be a new stadium built, preferably downtown. Sure, there is always some talk about the 'what if' but the reality was the temperature from the Bud Seilig regime was never positive. Maybe some new blood and new set of eyes may help. As far as ownership goes, up until now there have been no real potential owners with the wherewithal to own a team. Recently, however the name Bronfman, the son of the Expos former owner has been linked with interest as well as The head of Dollaramma and Media Giant Bell.

The name Bell is an interesting one and the reason there seems to be a little more traction when you figure them as possibly in on the fold. It is well know and reported that they took a HUGE hit when they were froze out of the National NHL Broadcasting rights that Rogers bought for 12yrs and $5.2 Billion. They also look across the dial and see a chief rival with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, add to that the fact that Bell owned TSN launched 3 additional stations and have a total of 5 channels that require programming content. Sports is the one, for lack of a better term 'PVR' Proof. People want to watch events live. With up to the second updates to tablets and phones , long are the days of  being able to go any amount of time to avoid seeing or hearing a score update of a live sporting event.
Owning a team ensures 162 games a year that you control, and any alternate programming that can be associated with it. Pre and post game. Team specials. There are all sorts of options. Then on a more basic primal level there is the satisfaction of taking away some of  the market share that your rival currently holds. The Blue Jays are regarded as Canada's team, maybe if Montreal can get in they can take advantage of some fans that just don't like Toronto because it is Toronto are just hungry for a team they can root for and support as their own.

The passion for baseball at the Major league level by fans would likely still be there. It was not a lack of fan support that drove the team out of town it was a combination of bad ownership, lack of local corporate sponsorship/ownership and most importantly the lack of a new downtown stadium. It is common knowledge that Olympic Stadium was in great need of being replaced but for whatever combination of reasons that the team, and governments could not come to terms to get something done. Maybe the ownership at the time really never had any interest or motivation in keeping the team in Montreal anyway so the effort may not have been there. MLB did nothing to help  keep the team in Montreal either. Sure, they 'owned' the team the last few years before they moved to Washington and tried having some games played in Mexico but by that time the writing was on the wall. How serious could they be about baseball in Montreal as owners when just prior taking ownership of the team from then owner Jeffrey Loria had  them up for possible contraction with the Minnesota Twins. Interestingly enough, the Twins are still in Minnesota and have a beautiful new stadium, Target Field.

Sure it is probably a long ways away from happening if it can happen at all. but maybe, just maybe we are a little closer for this impossibility to become possible.

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