Major League Baseball in Montreal? Look to Winnipeg
Here we go again.
It seems like every few months some story rolls around that fans the flames of hope for the baseball lovers of Montreal. This time however, the story hasn't appear out of the ether, but rather has come from one of Montreal's most credible and authoritative voices on the game: Rodger Brulotte. In an interview with The Team 990's Mitch Melnick earlier this week, Brulotte revealed that after spurning their advances several times, he had a conversation with a group of persistent Montreal-based businessmen who have a serious interest in bringing baseball back to Montreal. No names were given in order to preserve dignity if the project falls apart, but Brulotte is more than reputable and wouldn't tease everyone if there wasn't substance to the story.
The reaction to the story has been mixed. Many have gotten too excited, too quickly. Some blow it off as farcical and others walk the line of cautious optimism. What's different this time is that the story seems to have evidence to support the thought that Major League Baseball can once again thrive in Montreal.
It's a well known fact that Montreal remains the largest North American city without any professional baseball in its boundaries. That in itself is a shame, but it means little...after all, while the conditions may be right to get a team here, that says absolutely nothing about sustainability from a fan/attendance standpoint and the ability to field a competitive team.
Are Montreal's baseball fans a sleeping giant, or are they so jaded by what has gone on in the past that they are either lost forever, or would be very slow to come around? Montreal is a town with no shortage of things to spend time and money on, and its casual sports fans take the word casual to a whole new level. Here today, gone tomorrow. Are there enough hardcore fans left to serve as an anchor while the casuals come back? We can't possibly have the answer to that. The dreamers would say yes; the cynics would say no.
The volume was turned up a notch earlier this month as the Conference Board of Canada released a report stating that "Montreal has the necessary market conditions in place today to be the home of a Major League Baseball franchise", but that league conditions wouldn't yet favour a team in Montreal (i.e. no salary cap, and ridiculous climbing salaries). With the Canadian dollar soaring in 2011 (even hitting a modern all-time high), this is not a surprise. Montreal has certainly grown over the past several years and the business climate is a lot more stable now than it was 8-10 years ago when the Expos were as bankable as a radioactive hooker.Continued on the next page