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Friday, April 13, 2018

DRays Bay: Montreal Expos ownership group positioned for MLB relocation

The recent exhibition games played in Montreal have significantly re-ignited the talk of baseball in that City and Province, to the point where prospective owners have been forced to respond to endless questions about when and how - not if - the Expos will return to Montreal.

. . .

But the latest few questions answered by Mitch Garner, who has a stake in Cirque du Soleil and is set to make an ownership bid along with fellow Billionaire Stephen Bronfman, is what has raised eyebrows and completely changed the course of how MLB may wind up returning to Montreal.

This article describes and analyzes the plan of Garner and Bronfman to privately fund a new stadium. I think MLB is using Montreal as a bargaining chip, like it used Washington for so long. But if a team moves, I would strongly prefer it to be the Rays, for sentimental as well as historical reasons. The author thinks that the franchise would change its name if it moved to Montreal. Could an original AL team really let go of that much historical capital?

Dr. Vaux Posted: April 13, 2018 at 02:43 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, expos, rays, relocation, stadium financing

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. bunyon Posted: April 13, 2018 at 04:23 PM (#5653426)
Agreed. If the A's move, they should stay the A's.

And, they're about due, right? They're coming up on having been in Oakland longer than Philadelphia. (KC was 12 years).
   2. bunyon Posted: April 13, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5653427)
Besides, if they move to Montreal, they could be the "Montreal Eh's?"
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 13, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5653429)
The Marlins were an original AL team?
   4. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 13, 2018 at 04:37 PM (#5653439)
If the A's move, they should stay the A's.


But they should totally change "Athletics" to the French word for Athletics - which Google tells me is "Athletisme" (with an accent over the first e).
   5. A Baseball Fan Posted: April 13, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5653459)
If you think MLB is going back to Montreal, I have a bridge to sell you.
   6. crict Posted: April 13, 2018 at 06:39 PM (#5653495)
Athletiques is the correct way, and it has been used quite a bit. See here for the Quebec City team in the 1940s CanAm league. I remember in little league that was always an Athletiques teams with the green/yellow colors. It works really well as A's is also how you spell Aces (minus the apostrophe) in French.

That being said, Expos is still the heavy favorite. (And I agree that the team moving back is still unlikely)
   7. Brian C Posted: April 13, 2018 at 06:56 PM (#5653499)
If you think MLB is going back to Montreal, I have a bridge to sell you.

My guess is that this is probably true, but also that "Canada" is a bigger obstacle in owners' minds than "Montreal" in particular. But, at the same time, in baseball as in life, you get the right billionaires in place and who knows what might happen.
   8. zachtoma Posted: April 13, 2018 at 08:40 PM (#5653570)
The Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles are original AL teams that changed their names. Granted it was over 50 years ago, more like 60 for the Orioles.
   9. Dr. Vaux Posted: April 13, 2018 at 09:42 PM (#5653617)
And they weren't franchises that at the time had won multiple World Series and had numerous Hall of Famers (like the Athletics).
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: April 13, 2018 at 10:29 PM (#5653633)
well, the Orioles were the Milwaukee Brewers when they debuted in 1901 as the AL was born.
they moved to St. Louis in 1902 and became the Browns.
   11. asinwreck Posted: April 14, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5653734)
Going for regional marketing with the name Quebec Nordiques appeals to me. The team could take the old hockey logo and cut off the blade of the stick to make it look like a 70s softball logo.
   12. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: April 14, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5653754)
Going for regional marketing with the name Quebec Nordiques appeals to me. The team could take the old hockey logo and cut off the blade of the stick to make it look like a 70s softball logo.

Passions may have cooled over the years, but I think this would go over about as well in Montreal as naming a Boston hockey team the Yankees.
   13. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 14, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5653765)
Mitch Garner, who has a stake in Cirque du Soleil and is set to make an ownership bid along with fellow Billionaire Stephen Bronfman

Good luck getting a MLB team, preferably of the expansion variety, but Montreal lost the Expos because the locals, including the Bronfmans, weren't willing to put money into the team, opening the door for Loria. I'll be a bit skeptical that mega-rich owners, ready, willing & able to spend tons of their own money, are actually on board until someone starts writing checks.
   14. Greg Pope Posted: April 14, 2018 at 01:31 PM (#5653766)
That being said, Expos is still the heavy favorite.

That would be disappointing. The team was named after the World's Fair that had happened just the year before they were awarded the franchise. Nothing like that exists today, and that team's been gone for over a decade.
   15. Batman Posted: April 14, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5653793)
I’d like to see the Montreal Exposé, named, of course, after Warren Cromartie’s favorite band.
   16. BDC Posted: April 14, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5653819)
The 1969 Montreal team should have been named the Royals, and the Kansas City team should have been named the Blues, and the St. Louis hockey club that started life about the same time should have been called the … Cardinals. They already had baseball and football Cardinals at the time, and they seemed to keep it all straight with no difficulties.
   17. Omineca Greg Posted: April 14, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5653836)
I’d like to see the Montreal Exposé, named, of course, after Warren Cromartie’s favorite band.

I think Warren Cromartie's favourite band is Rush.

He's thanked personally on the liner notes to Signals, and the blueprints for "Warren Cromartie Secondary School" appears on the back cover. So maybe it's actually that Warren Cromartie is just Rush's favourite baseball player, but I get the feeling it's a mutual admiration kind of thing.
   18. crict Posted: April 14, 2018 at 09:37 PM (#5653984)
That being said, Expos is still the heavy favorite.

That would be disappointing. The team was named after the World's Fair that had happened just the year before they were awarded the franchise. Nothing like that exists today, and that team's been gone for over a decade.


In most minds, Expos has nothing to do with fair. The name is synonymous with baseball in Quebec.

I'll be a bit skeptical that mega-rich owners, ready, willing & able to spend tons of their own money, are actually on board until someone starts writing checks.


The situation was terrible in the late 90s/early 00s. I believe it has changed since. Medias (Quebec has its own media system) were completely ignoring baseball, everything associated to the sport was negative. The time off has changed the perspective, the media landscape has changed (there are now 2 sports networks that would fight for the TV rights), the baseball industry has changed. It just might work.

   19. Russ Posted: April 14, 2018 at 10:52 PM (#5654011)
Remember that Quebec 1995 referendum on independance failed by fewer votes than seats in the Olympic Stadium. The whole situation yanked the local economy into a ditch and cast a spectre over everything in the province, not to mention driving a lot of anglophone baseball fans away.

Everything is completely different now, you really can’t use evidence from when the Expos left to assess whether they would succeed now.
   20. Panic Posted: April 15, 2018 at 01:15 AM (#5654043)
And they weren't franchises that at the time had won multiple World Series and had numerous Hall of Famers (like the Athletics).


LOL. Give Charlie O an extra $100 and he would have changed the name in a heartbeat.
   21. ReggieThomasLives Posted: April 15, 2018 at 08:16 PM (#5654295)
The Rays are a Florida team, they should move but stay in Florida. It would be easy to move to Miami now that the Marlins have moved to the Virgin Islands, that stadium is spectacular.
   22. John Northey Posted: April 15, 2018 at 11:39 PM (#5654393)
I'd love to see the Rays move to Montreal. After all neither Florida team has shown an ability to get fans to show up for winners. Only twice have the Rays finished in the top 10 (out of 14 or 15) in attendance in the AL. 2010 was the last time - 9th with 1.8 million despite going to the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years. The following year they made the playoffs again and saw attendance DROP over 300k (over 4k a game). That just shouldn't happen, no matter the park. Their only time over 2 million was their first season with 30k per game (2.5 million). That is pathetic.

Miami for 4 of their first 5 years was top 10 (twice top 5) in the NL for attendance. Very solid. 12th is the best since then (since 1997 when they won the WS then dumped every good player). They cracked 2 million when they moved into their new park (2012) but have been dead last in the NL ever since for attendance. In fact from 2006 to 2018 they have been dead last in the NL for attendance (other than the first year in the new park) EVERY year. In fact, since their first WS win they have been below 1 million as often as above 2 million (once each).

Montreal, on the other hand, cracked 2 million each of the 2 years before they made the playoffs in 1981 (the strike year) and did it again each of the next 2 years. So Montreal cracked 2 million 4 times with good but not great teams in a park that most hated for baseball (the Big Owe is not a good ballpark, I went to a game in 1994 and while I had fun I was miles from the field it seemed). So 4 times for Montreal in an era when 2 million was rare vs 4 times for both Florida teams combined in an era when it is expected. Despite Montreal getting 1 playoff appearance (during a strike year yet) vs those 2 teams getting 2 WS titles (both Miami) plus 4 more playoff appearances (all Tampa).

Yeah, Montreal at the end was sad but that was due to an assortment of factors (owner & league tearing apart the team and saying basically only idiots would support them, a big chunk of the stadium falling off one day). I'm sure the city would be far, far stronger support now than either Florida franchise gets at least as far as bums in the seats, especially if a new park is built.
   23. John Northey Posted: April 15, 2018 at 11:42 PM (#5654396)
One more comparison - Miami dead last in NL for 11 out of 12 years, Montreal dead last for their last 7 years plus one other time in their entire history. So Miami has finished dead last more times in attendance then Montreal did.
   24. RMc Has Bizarre Ideas to Fix Baseball Posted: April 16, 2018 at 07:42 AM (#5654448)
the St. Louis hockey club that started life about the same time should have been called the … Cardinals. They already had baseball and football Cardinals at the time, and they seemed to keep it all straight with no difficulties.


Then, in 1983, they would've become the Saskatoon Cardinals. Which would've been cool.

Give Charlie O an extra $100 and he would have changed the (A's) name in a heartbeat.


Charlie wanted to move the Kansas City A's to Louisville and rename them the Kentucky Colonels...which would've allowed him to keep the "KC" on their caps.
   25. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5654534)
In fact from 2006 to 2018 they have been dead last in the NL for attendance (other than the first year in the new park) EVERY year.
Well, then the solution is obvious: They just need to get a new park every year. Problem solved.
   26. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: April 16, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5654545)
The Rays are a Florida team, they should move but stay in Florida. It would be easy to move to Miami now that the Marlins have moved to the Virgin Islands, that stadium is spectacular.
This wouldn't work, but maybe move the Marlins to Montreal or Guadalajara or who cares where and then turn the Rays into a barnstorming team called the Florida Rays. 36 games in St Petersburg, 36 in Miami, and 10 at that Disney facility in Orlando. And when they make the playoffs, schedule the games for whichever city had the best regular season attendance for them.

Or do something more fun -- move the fences in in the Trop, and when the schedule is released early in the year try to schedule based on whether it's best for the Rays to play that opponent in a homerdome or in a swampy outdoor park. Sure, you're guesstimating in the winter what teams will look like in August, but it'd still be a unique bit of home field advantage.

Come to think of it, the Marlins should be forced to play a percentage of their games in Puerto Rico for a while, then moved to Montreal. It's only just.
   27. catomi01 Posted: April 16, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5654806)
This wouldn't work, but maybe move the Marlins to Montreal or Guadalajara or who cares where and then turn the Rays into a barnstorming team called the Florida Rays. 36 games in St Petersburg, 36 in Miami, and 10 at that Disney facility in Orlando. And when they make the playoffs, schedule the games for whichever city had the best regular season attendance for them.


I know it won't happen - but I would love to see this. Rays are pretty heavily reliant on decent TV ratings already, right? So a fan in Tampa can always catch the game that way while their on the road. While they're at it, I'm sure there's a triple A or college park in Jacksonville or Tallahassee they could use for a game or 2 each to really play everywhere in Florida.
   28. Tony S Posted: April 16, 2018 at 05:56 PM (#5654826)
One more comparison - Miami dead last in NL for 11 out of 12 years, Montreal dead last for their last 7 years plus one other time in their entire history. So Miami has finished dead last more times in attendance then Montreal did.


Jeff Loria's Midas touch!
   29. -- Posted: April 16, 2018 at 07:44 PM (#5654882)
This wouldn't work, but maybe move the Marlins to Montreal or Guadalajara or who cares where and then turn the Rays into a barnstorming team called the Florida Rays. 36 games in St Petersburg, 36 in Miami, and 10 at that Disney facility in Orlando. And when they make the playoffs, schedule the games for whichever city had the best regular season attendance for them.


Off the top of my head, teams with permanent double (or more) homes:

Kansas City-Omaha Kings
Virginia Squires
Carolina Cougars

Then you have your kind ofs: The Celtics playing a handful of home games in Providence or Hartford (?), the Bullets after leaving Baltimore for DC playing games in the Baltimore Civic Center -- which they did well into the 90s.

It's not entirely unprecedented, though at those distances it probably is.
   30. catomi01 Posted: April 17, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5655329)
Islanders are going to be doing something like this between Barclays and the Coliseum until their new arena is done.
   31. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 17, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5655333)
This wouldn't work, but maybe move the Marlins to Montreal or Guadalajara or who cares where and then turn the Rays into a barnstorming team called the Florida Rays. 36 games in St Petersburg, 36 in Miami, and 10 at that Disney facility in Orlando.


And 10 at the stadium in Puerto Rico where the Expos played in their last couple seasons.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: April 17, 2018 at 02:31 PM (#5655335)
Then you have your kind ofs: The Celtics playing a handful of home games in Providence or Hartford (?), the Bullets after leaving Baltimore for DC playing games in the Baltimore Civic Center -- which they did well into the 90s.


Packers in County Stadium, where both teams stood on the same sideline.

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