Bud Selig created quite a stir when he said that Montreal is an “excellent candidate” to once again have Major League Baseball. It is the most recent boon to people seeking Montreal’s return to Major League Baseball.
This coming a week after a report linked Montreal with the Oakland Athletics who are fighting to get a new stadium in California.
The fact is, these are both very good signs for baseball’s return to Montreal even if it isn’t imminent by any means. There is a cycle to courting Major League Baseball. First, a city is considered a candidate. In 1968, Atlanta, Oakland, Milwaukee, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Seattle, and Toronto were all considered for expansion. All of them ended up with teams.
Then you are used by a city as a threat to move in order to pressure local communities or government to get what they want. The San Francisco Giants used both Toronto and Tampa Bay before eventually settling where they were. Toronto and Tampa Bay both received teams within six years of their Giants courtship.
Montreal has had both of those things happen in a matter of weeks. Like I said, this doesn’t mean it’s imminent. It will take at least 10 years and that’s assuming a stadium gets the green light. People who expect to see David Price and Evan Longoria or Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes or even Billy Beane or Joe Maddon will be disappointed. Montreal may end up with the Oakland Athletics or Tampa Bay Rays but it will likely not be with any of their current members. However, I am sure that Montreal will get a baseball team back in my lifetime.
The biggest issue is the stadium. It was also Tampa Bay’s issue and they built a stadium in hopes of drawing a team, much like Seattle is doing with an arena project. However, no team means no owner which means all of the funds would have to come from public money at a municipal, provincial and federal level.
I don’t see that happening, especially considering the debacle that was, and is, Olympic Stadium. As we saw in March, Olympic Stadium, with some upkeep, can be a holdover for a couple of years but Major League Baseball – and any potential owner – will need a guarantee of a new stadium being built that will welcome baseball. Otherwise, it’s a moot point.
The obstacles that Montreal has in front of them are not deal breakers. It doesn’t seem like they need to convince Major League Baseball they can have a team which was always the biggest obstacle. That has been cleared. Now, they need to get down to business. Baseball is closer to this city than it has been since 2004. But there is still a ways to go.