Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has said she is “very enthusiastic” about plans to return Major League Baseball (MLB) to the city, but maintained public consultation will be needed before any funding is released for a new stadium project.
The Canadian city has been without an MLB team since the Expos relocated to Washington D.C. in 2004. The Montreal Group, an organisation comprised of local business people who are seeking to regain MLB action for the city, has now released a market study concluding that Montreal has the market characteristics to support an MLB team effectively over the long term.
The study, conducted by the Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) consulting group, said that strong interest and positivity exist in the local and regional market regarding the return of MLB. The report stated that a downtown location with public transit access would be essential to a team’s success.
The market and financial feasibility study carried out by CSL included an analysis of demographic and socio-economic data that characterise the Greater Montreal market. CSL’s consultation process had three components: six focus groups selected from over 1,300 respondents who requested participation, one-on-one interviews with several prominent Montreal business leaders and an online survey completed by 13,900 people.
The report illustrated a preference for a ballpark with 35,000 seats or less which “should have a social atmosphere, a design that fits the local architectural style and be a year-round destination”.
Commenting on the plans, Plante said: “We need to evaluate what kind of participation, how we will collaborate, but so far, so good. We all agree it would be a great opportunity for Montreal to get back baseball, now we just have to go back at the details, but I’m very enthusiastic.”
During her 2017 election victory, Plante said she would consult the public before assigning funding for any potential ballpark. Reaffirming this stance, she added, according to the Canadian Press news agency: “The needs are important in so many other areas, and what we’re seeing elsewhere is there are different business models being developed to get sports teams.
“But if it comes to asking Montrealers for money, for example to build a stadium, yes, I will ask Montrealers.”