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Monday, June 24, 2013

Rays owner talks future, possible move

FS: What would it take to break the lease?

SS: The specifics of it, I can’t and wouldn’t get into. There’s no real breaking of the lease. It’s there. It’s a lease. We’re there. We have to play our games there until 2027. After that, we don’t have to play our games there. If I walked in and said, ‘Here’s $12 billion. Can you let us out of the lease?’ I think they’ll probably say OK. If I say, ‘Here’s a dollar. I want to leave in five years,’ they’re probably not going to say OK.

By the same token, when you leave, you have to have a place to go. It’s not as easy as moving into a house five miles away. It’s complex. The next house we build has to be a self-sustaining home.

FS: What are the realistic chances the Rays leave the Tampa Bay area?

SS: It’s very unrealistic. If it’s up to me, it’s very unrealistic. There’s certainly been a lot of discussion, from others within baseball, that we should get the hell out of there. It’s not in my makeup to do that. I am committed to doing whatever I can, until I can no longer do it, to make it work there.

FS: Is it safe to say that, eventually, there has to be a new stadium in Tampa Bay or you’ll sell the club?

SS: Eventually, yeah. I would suppose so. But if that happens, by doing that, I could be ensuring baseball is there anyhow. The other side is, in fairness, we receive a lot of revenue-sharing money each year.

It should be expected from other owners, if (we) put a winning product on the field, get to the playoffs and World Series, (they) shouldn’t have to share much money with (us) for the next couple years.

I think ours is the only franchise — maybe I’m mistaken — that has been to the World Series (recently) and we still had to take a lot of money in revenue sharing. The fact that all the other owners are consistently writing checks to us and see no way to get out of it, some of this will be their desires. … The decision can be taken out of my hands at some point. If you haven’t made any progress, and it’s not working where you are, (MLB could say), ‘We’re going to duke it out. This team is going to be somewhere else, whether it’s 10 miles away or 510 miles away.’

FS: Do you think Major League Baseball could work again in Montreal?

SS: Yes. I know it can.

FS: How?

SS: My gut. I was at Olympic Stadium the day after they got Bartolo Colon. I’ve been convinced — this is before I bought the (Rays) — that it would be an incredible place for baseball. That doesn’t mean my baseball team, but a baseball team.

FS: Do you think there will come a day when Montreal has a team again?

SS: In the next five years, no. In the next 20, yes.

Youppi!

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 24, 2013 at 05:04 PM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: montreal, rays, stuart sternberg

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   1. TerpNats Posted: June 24, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4477008)
Does this mean that Montreal may only have to wait 24 years for MLB's return, nine years fewer than Washington did?

For me, that was the only downside to getting the Nationals -- that for D.C. to get a team, it had to take one from a city that brought a unique element to the majors. I visited Montreal for two games in 1998; it's a terrific city with a cosmopolitan, multicultural air no MLB market can match. Build that stadium, Montreal, even if it's a Parc Jarry II that's bare-bones by 21st century standards, and watch the Rays arrive in 2028...if the Athletics don't beat them there first.
   2. Flynn Posted: June 24, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4477017)
That might actually happen. I went to Montreal last year and was really impressed by how much people I talked to wanted the Expos back so I've closely followed the developments there and interesting things are happening. It's very early, but you have people talking about baseball in a way they weren't 3-4 years ago.

The Chamber of Commerce is funding a study on the support and cost for Major League Baseball's return (Warren Cromartie, who is a big public advocate for the Expos returning, gave an update today saying that preliminary findings are promising). Richard Bergeron, one of the leading mayoral candidates, released a redevelopment plan for a part of the city that featured a ballpark! Denis Coderre, who might be the leading mayoral candidate, is an avowed Expos fan who was Minister for Sport during the Chretien government and a key player in trying to build the ballpark during that time. They've held some events to raise awareness and successfully managed to get a street and two local fields named after Gary Carter, keeping awareness up. The ExposNation group is bringing about 400 fans to a Blue Jays game to show support. Expos merchandise continues to be some of the best selling team merchandise in Canada of any team in any sport. A Can-Am League preseason game between Quebec and Trois-Rivieres sold out Gary Carter Field in the Ahuntsic district. 1500 doesn't sound like a lot but they literally couldn't fit any more people into the space and were turning people away. In addition, Ahuntsic is a working-class, heavily francophone area, a demographic people feel checked out on the Expos sometime in the 90s.

There's also little interesting things that don't yet have an Expos angle but may in the future. Bell has effectively no baseball presence while Rodgers are pulling in huge ratings for the Blue Jays. In TVA there is much stronger and better-funded competition for RDS, the leading francophone sports network. TVA shows Blue Jays games now. To me there is much greater chance for gaining lucrative contracts for TV rights which did not exist when the Expos did. If the Blue Jays succeed it will surely turn heads at Bell and perhaps convince them to go in on baseball.

Like I said, early days, but I really thought baseball was dead in Montreal. It is not.
   3. boteman Posted: June 24, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4477031)
.
   4. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: June 24, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4477043)
The ExposNation group is bringing about 400 fans to a Blue Jays game to show support.

At a NJDevils game last year, I saw a couple dozen folks sitting in an adjacent section, all wearing Quebec Nordiques sweaters. I asked one of them what was up, and he grinned and said, "If Winnipeg can get their team back, then so can we!"
   5. Flynn Posted: June 24, 2013 at 08:37 PM (#4477057)
Bettman will be named an enemy of the province soon if Quebec doesn't get a team. They've got an owner, they're building the arena...there's nothing more they can do but wait.

What Nordique fans have done through social media and meetups is unsurprisingly a big inspiration to the Expos fans.
   6. TerpNats Posted: June 24, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4477064)
The Saddledome is full of water from recent flooding, though the Calgary Flames maintain they'll be able to start the 2013-14 season there on time. If not, perhaps Quebec City can do for the Flames what Oklahoma City did for the Hornets (now Pelicans).
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: June 24, 2013 at 09:05 PM (#4477092)
This was a much more reasoned & level approach to these questions than I expected. Good interview.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: June 24, 2013 at 09:05 PM (#4477093)
I went to the opening day game in Montreal when Tim Raines returned for his final year. Loudest standing ovation I've ever heard. There is potential there. But the game 2 was a ghost town.
   9. puck Posted: June 24, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4477095)
Bettman will be named an enemy of the province soon if Quebec doesn't get a team. They've got an owner, they're building the arena...there's nothing more they can do but wait.


Meanwhile, looks like the Avs haven't finished in the top half of NHL attendance since 2006-07.
   10. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: June 24, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4477106)
I remember watching this game back in 2002. It was after Minaya had acquired Colon and Floyd.

The Braves were already up 11 1/2 games in mid-July, and even with those acquisitions there wasn't any real confidence that the Expos could make a run. There were only about 17,000 people there. Still, when Floyd homered off Glavine (it was the Expos' third home run of the inning), the crowd was as loud as any I could remember hearing. And that included New York crowds in postseason games.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 24, 2013 at 10:11 PM (#4477160)
Wait, aren't we supposed to be flogging him unmerciful for using "in my gut, based on a sample size of one game" reasoning?
   12. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: June 25, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4477259)
There is potential there. But the game 2 was a ghost town.

I'd like to think MLB is missing out by not having a team there, but then I look at the numbers... after two 2nd place finishes, the second of which being a 94-win season where they finished 13th out of 14 NL teams in attendance, the Expos followed that up with the best record in baseball in 1994 when the strike hit and still managed to finish only 11th out of 14 in attendance.

Had Bud's aggressive anti-marketing of Montreal started yet or was there another reason a winning team in a purportedly thriving market couldn't draw?
   13. Flynn Posted: June 25, 2013 at 12:24 AM (#4477264)
One of the worst stadiums in the league would be a big reason why. Montrealers hate the place. In a boring neighborhood on one side of town (and Montreal's kind of a weird place in that anglophones don't spend much time east of downtown while francophones don't spend much time west of downtown), it's a hot, domed, decrepit track stadium.

They would have finished higher up the attendance rankings had they finished the season, however. Once people cottoned onto the team being just that good, they were drawing 30K or more virtually every night.
   14. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4477267)
One of the worst stadiums in the league would be a big reason why. Montrealers hate the place. In a boring neighborhood on one side of town (and Montreal's kind of a weird place in that anglophones don't spend much time east of downtown while francophones don't spend much time west of downtown), it's a hot, domed, decrepit track stadium.

I'm sure it's atrocious by 2013 standards, but was it really that bad by 1994 standards, when old ballparks like Riverfront, Three Rivers, the Vet, Shea, etc., were still the rule rather than the exception?
   15. Flynn Posted: June 25, 2013 at 12:54 AM (#4477271)
If it didn't have a roof I would say no, but the roof was the killer. Even Frank Robinson pointed out that the last thing people want to do in the summer in Montreal is go indoors and you can see attendance begin to slide when the roof was finished in the late 80s. The stadium also killed two and nearly three CFL franchises in its time all due to poor attendance. Once the final incarnation of the Alouettes moved to McGill University's downtown stadium they began selling out virtually every game. The place had its honeymoon period but the glamor faded from it very quickly. I think the enormous amount of debt taken on to build it also caused resentment. It's a genuinely hated stadium.
   16. John Northey Posted: June 25, 2013 at 06:11 AM (#4477296)
I went to a game in 1994 just before the strike and recall the excitement in the air but also the feeling that ownership would abandon the team the minute the season was over. 30k at that game. The Expos had 40k+ 4 times in a park that was quite depressing - it was an echo chamber. Very sad that when they built it for the Olympics baseball was an afterthought - of course, when it was built everything was an afterthought to those building it (it is finally paid off though).

The fans do exist there, and given an open air park that is built for baseball first I suspect they'd slaughter Oakland and Tampa for attendance.
   17. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: June 25, 2013 at 06:43 AM (#4477302)
There are many baseball fans in Montreal (and in the whole province of Quebec) and there is a genuine love of the game from a great many people. But I still doubt I'll see the MLB come back there during my lifetime (and I'm only in my mid30s...)

As a native and evident of Quebec City, I can assure you all that there are no bigger subject in town than the possible return of the Nordiques. I'm pretty sure more people follow the city councils in Glendale, Arizona, here than in Glendale... Again, however, I'll believe in the return of the Nordiques when it happens. I doubt it's going to come, despite what everybody says. People say here that if Winnipeg did it, so can we. However, they don't realize Winnipeg is a larger city with a much bigger corporate base as it is the only major city in its province. In Quebec, Quebec City is the capital of the province, but not much else. Montreal has by far the largest corporate base.

And yes, I did loose my two favorite teams growing up.
   18. Russ Posted: June 25, 2013 at 06:43 AM (#4477303)

I'm sure it's atrocious by 2013 standards, but was it really that bad by 1994 standards, when old ballparks like Riverfront, Three Rivers, the Vet, Shea, etc., were still the rule rather than the exception?


I saw baseball games in Olympic Stadium, the Kingdome and Three Rivers Stadium. I can tell you that the O was significantly worse than the latter two. What made those three stadiums particularly terrible for baseball is that unless they were completely full, they felt empty. But Olympic Stadium felt far emptier at 80% capacity than either the Kingdome or TRS. Just a cavernous, unfriendly place where the people in the OF bleachers felt miles away from the people in behind the dugout. Honestly, it was not even close to the Kingdome or TRS and those two were some pretty crappy stadiums for baseball in themselves.

   19. John Northey Posted: June 25, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4477345)
I've been to games at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium (where many seats were so far away the game was a rumour), SkyDome, Tiger Stadium (the one Ty Cobb once played at), and Fenway as well as Olympic Stadium in Montreal. No question the Big Owe was the worst of them all - massive to such a degree that 30k fans feels like 10k. Fans did their best to make it fun by pounding the seats and the like but in the end nothing short of a Montreal owner showing up could've saved them. A shame as a good businessman could make money with that market one would think.
   20. donlock Posted: June 25, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4477349)
Not sure about the reasoning that say fans hate the stadium but love the team and would support it in a new park. We hear this about Oakland, Tampa and Montreal. Any real evidence to support this rosy colored analysis?

Obviously it is more fun to go to a game in Camden Yards than in the old ballpark and there is a new home buzz but does attendance really jump, when other factors are controlled? For example, Baltimore lost the Bullets and Colts, built a new park and attendance soared for several years then declined. That is kind of a complicated situation that may not fit other towns.
   21. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: June 25, 2013 at 09:18 AM (#4477350)
SS: Eventually, yeah. I would suppose so. But if that happens, by doing that, I could be ensuring baseball is there anyhow. The other side is, in fairness, we receive a lot of revenue-sharing money each year.

It should be expected from other owners, if (we) put a winning product on the field, get to the playoffs and World Series, (they) shouldn’t have to share much money with (us) for the next couple years.


Wait, WHAT? Who let this guy speak to the press without a Budshovik handler? He threatens to undermine the entire economic structure of modern baseball. Goodness knowns Bolshevik Bud couldn't threaten Young Master Hank quickly enough when he raised the same issues a few years back.
   22. BrianBrianson Posted: June 25, 2013 at 09:49 AM (#4477367)
Having attended a game at Olympic Stadium (Larry Walker hit for the cycle), I concur with the analysis that no other baseball teams have comparably bad parks. It was least pleasant place to watch a sports game I've ever encountered, except possibly the time in T-ball where someone disturbed a hornets' nest. Those two I might consider a wash.
   23. RJ in TO Posted: June 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM (#4477384)
I'm of the opinion that Exhibition Stadium was worse than Olympic Stadium.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of Olympic Stadium.
   24. zonk Posted: June 25, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4477399)
Wrigley Field and Chicago's north side might be available -- they might have to compete with the Rosemont Cubs, though.
   25. fra paolo Posted: June 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4477427)
I'd like to think MLB is missing out by not having a team there, but then I look at the numbers...

If you mean 'let's look at the history of Montréal attendance, especially in comparison with equivalent-sized markets in the United States', you'll get a much clearer picture of Montréal's attendance problem than if you just look at Montréal's attendance in the years before the strike. On this site, in the dim and distant past (probably 2004 or 2005), I have post that does exactly that. (Or else it was on a now-defunct blog.)

Going from memory, what you'll find is that the Expos' attendance in the 1970s and 1980s largely shadowed that of similar markets, although these included the then-problematic San Francisco Giants, and the baseball hotbed of Cincinnati. There was a notable divergence, however, beginning at some point in the 1990s, around the time the team was sold by the Bronfmans, and before the present incumbent toppled Fay Vincent in the boardroom coup.

What happened was that Montréal stayed in place, while other markets began to experience an attendance boom. Thus, the Expos fell from their usual place, just below the median, to the bottom of the attendance rankings. The boom in other markets is stalled by the strike of 1994, and overall MLB attendance fell for a time, before growth resumes in the late 1990s. The pre-strike heights were recovered early in the present century, IIRC.

Whatever was 'wrong' with the Montréal market in the late 1990s, something definitely was wrong. Just the same as something was 'wrong' in San Francisco, a perennial candidate for relocation in the 1970s. The Giants eventually recovered, but I'm not sure the same would have been true of the Expos. For starters, any fixing of the Expos would probably have required allowing Expos' broadcasts into southwestern Ontario, and I don't see the Blue Jays agreeing to that too readily. (And the Tigers used to have many fans from Windsor to about London, I'm told, so that's two teams with an interest in keeping the Expos out.) And yet, you couldn't mobilise the ex-Expos fans still there to support any Montréal baseball club. There are all sorts of factors why one would find Expos' fans in western Ontario, that wouldn't apply to a new team.

I don't think Montréal would be a significant improvement on Tampa Bay or Miami as a market. But I also think the same is true for all of the other alternatives. Sometimes, when confronted with tough alternatives, it is best to offer a Gallic shrug.
   26. Flynn Posted: June 25, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4477473)
Not sure about the reasoning that say fans hate the stadium but love the team and would support it in a new park. We hear this about Oakland, Tampa and Montreal. Any real evidence to support this rosy colored analysis?


The Giants would be Exhibit A. They drew 2 million three times in Candlestick's 39 years. They've drawn more than 3 million 10 out of 12 years in AT&T Park, and the two years they didn't get to 3 million were still better than any year in Candlestick's history.

The Mariners definitely draw much better than they did in the Kingdome when you look at comparably hopeless seasons.

The Giants are probably the best example, in that Candlestick was one of the few stadiums that matched the Big O for unfriendliness to the game and unsuitable location.

I'm of the opinion that Exhibition Stadium was worse than Olympic Stadium.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of Olympic Stadium.


I find it staggering that the best baseball park in Canadian MLB history was Jarry Park, a thrown together at the last second community ballfield that people couldn't wait to see the back of by 1977, telling themselves that the Big O at least had places to pee. Though by 1978 the Expos were already lobbying the city government to renovate Jarry Park to make it major league sized. Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

   27. Russ Posted: June 25, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4477480)
Any real evidence to support this rosy colored analysis?


Despite the fact that the team still hasn't had a winning season since 1992, the Pirates have never fallen below a 19K/game average during any year at PNC. You can see this more clearly in the plot here:

Link

which plots winning percentage vs. attendance. Although I know that attendance in baseball, in general, is higher now than it was during the time of Three Rivers Stadium, it's shocking how the really excellent teams of the 1970's and early 1990's were not able to draw more than the sub-.500 teams of the 2000's. The Pirates never averaged more than 26K per game in TRS and one could argue that if the Pirates were to go on a run of seasons where they either contend for or even make the playoffs that they would average more than that.

The boxplots show it even more dramatically, although the temporal aspect of it is hidden a bit here.
   28. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: June 25, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4477486)
Whatever was 'wrong' with the Montréal market in the late 1990s, something definitely was wrong.


Expo attendance was actually quite good from 1979-1983
it plummeted in 1984 and never really recovered (relative to league) before cratering into an abyss in 1998. (The Team basically had started selling off every decent player and finally carted to 95 losses in 1998, then Loria came in 12/1999, which was basically the last nail in the coffin)

What you can see is that Expo attendance was reflective somewhat of the team-
1991: 71-91, just 935K fans
1996: 88-74, 1.6mil fans

then splat - and the team went splat because quite frankly the people running team were not trying to win - they were trying to cut costs (I mean there were people, scouts, etc, who were trying to win, draft and develop good players etc.- but the people who really mattered- ownership, whether it be Bronfman or Loria- didn't care,and didn't hide the fact that they didn't care)

Biggest media/baseball market in the US (NYC)-the Mets have periodically outdrawn literally every other team, they have also had sinking spells when ownership didn't give a #### (late 70s) or was hopelessly disorganized (early 90s Harazin's reign of error, now post-Madoff) and attendance craters.

Montreal could have survived Bronfman had he been succeeded by an ownership team that tried to win, I think the Expos would have survived had Bronfman been succeeded by an ownership group that tried and succeeded in contending.
Didn't happen they got Loria, whose Marlins have been last or next to last in NL attendance in 13 of the past 15 years-
How does a team win a Word Series and go from 5th to 13th in attendance the next year? By openly holding a firesale and dropping to 54-108 that's how, and Marlins attendance has literally never recovered, even when they won in 2003.

Fans need to know the team is trying, but they knew in Montreal that the team was not trying, just as they know now that the team in Miami is not trying.
   29. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4477492)
I'm of the opinion that Exhibition Stadium was worse than Olympic Stadium.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of Olympic Stadium.


I never made it to the big Owe, but I've been to the Stick, The Mistake by the Lake, and old Texas Arlington. All three were wretched. All things considered, Texas was probably the worst. 100+ degrees, no shade anywhere. Taking climate out of the equation, Cleveland was the worst.
   30. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 25, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4477561)
Thanks for the replies re: Olympic Stadium. I never made it up there. (One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't take more road trips in the late 1980s and early '90s to the soon-to-be-replaced MLB ballparks.)

As for Montreal, it's an interesting situation. On the surface, it seems like Montreal would almost have to be better than Tampa, but between Montreal losing the Expos and Ottawa losing its Triple-A team, it seems like there isn't a strong base of support for professional baseball in that region. No doubt, there are some very passionate fans in Montreal who want MLB to return, but an area needs a lot more than some diehards to make MLB work.

On the flip side, I think the people who believe a new downtown stadium in Tampa will solve things for the Rays are wishcasting. The Buccaneers have a relatively new stadium that is very easily accessible, and yet their attendance has been 31st, 30th, 31st, and 29th in the NFL over the past four seasons. (Granted, the Bucs were terrible in 2009 and '11, but how much should that matter with only an 8-game schedule in a warm-weather city?)

Sternberg hinted at this in the interview, but things could get very interesting 10 or 20 years from now, when places like Cleveland might no longer be able to support an MLB team due to population decline, population shifts, etc.
   31. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 25, 2013 at 01:44 PM (#4477571)
I like his saying that they still had to take a lot of money in revenue sharing, as though it was almost forced on him. No, Stewie, you've got to take this $20 million! Oh . . . alright.
   32. winnipegwhip Posted: June 25, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4477580)
In 1996 the NHL left Winnipeg with a weaker prospective of returning than the Expos had when leaving Montreal in 2004.

I was at the Bartolo Colon game in 2002. My wife and I took a trip to Montreal for our vacation. We choose that destination as it appeared 2002 was going to be the last Expos year. I was there for the Sunday game as well and went by myself for the disaster against the Phillies on the Monday night. Only a trip to Cooperstown the next day helped me get over the Monday night game which put me in a foul mood.

The Monday night disaster

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MON/MON200207150.shtml
   33. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4477584)
(Granted, the Bucs were terrible in 2009 and '11, but how much should that matter with only an 8-game schedule in a warm-weather city?)


Attending a football game in Florida in September and October is pretty awful.
   34. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4477592)
How much can the flight of professional franchises from Canada to the US be connected to the disparity in exchange rate that existed in the 1990's?
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4477603)
Expo attendance was actually quite good from 1979-1983
it plummeted in 1984 and never really recovered (relative to league)


Meanwhile, Toronto drew:

1982: 1.3 million (10th)
1983: 1.9 million (7th)
1984: 2.1 million (4th)
1985: 2.5 million (2nd)

The Expos had the misfortune to fall apart right when the Jays were getting good.
   36. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4477605)
Attending a football game in Florida in September and October is pretty awful.

Worse than all the cold-weather cities in November and December?

At a glance, it doesn't look like the Bucs' attendance is related to the weather:

Buccaneers winning, but fans lose as low attendance blacks out games

This was a November story; the Bucs couldn't even get to the 85 percent threshold to avoid a local blackout.
   37. fra paolo Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4477611)
How much can the flight of professional franchises from Canada to the US be connected to the disparity in exchange rate that existed in the 1990's?

Specifically in the Expos' case, I don't think it helped, but the absence of a set of deep-pocketed owners with the willingness to keep an unprofitable venture going in the hope of better days was the biggest factor in ending major-league baseball in Montréal.

What's really shocking is the loss of Canada's minor-league teams. Edmonton, possibly more than Montréal, has reason to feel hard done-by with the loss of the popular Trappers. But I think even that had more to do with travel arrangements than the dollar-dollar rate.
   38. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4477614)
At the time, I heard that the exchange rate was the #1 factor, though I'm not sure I believed it.
Ottawa is trying to get a team back - AA Eastern League, maybe A Midwest League.

Might be too far away, but I like the idea of Calgary in the Pioneer League.
   39. Joe Kehoskie Posted: June 25, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4477619)
What's really shocking is the loss of Canada's minor-league teams. Edmonton, possibly more than Montréal, has reason to feel hard done-by with the loss of the popular Trappers. But I think even that had more to do with travel arrangements than the dollar-dollar rate.

Edmonton was tough because it only had Calgary nearby, but I've always been surprised that minor league baseball didn't do better in Ontario. London, Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Welland all lost teams in about a 10-year period, followed by Ottawa a few years ago. Only Ottawa seems to be making any effort to get a team back (and of those five cities, Ottawa is the worst city, geographically, for MiLB).

Welland's ballpark was way ahead of its time, but the other cities had mediocre facilities. Hamilton and St. Catharines certainly should have been big enough to support the NY-P teams they had.
   40. Ron J2 Posted: June 25, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4477693)
#12 The Expos basically stopped marketing the day Bronfman left.

But the attendance numbers you cite don't tell the full story. In their last home stand against the Cardinals (all weekday games) they drew 30,359 37,553 30,541 and 39,044. And the series before that (Dodgers) they drew 32,253 35,831 and 34,402

   41. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: June 25, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4477702)
Worse than all the cold-weather cities in November and December?


Football is meant to be played in the cold. I'd rather go to a game in Green Bay in December than in Miami or Tampa in September.
   42. winnipegwhip Posted: June 25, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4477753)
The last great homestand was the "Believer Fever" series of August 25-28, 2003. The Expos drew against the Phillies

Monday Night - 30,501
Tuesday Night - 12,509
Wednesday Night - 20,105
Thursday Afternoon - 20,030 (a lot of those tickets were walk-ups as the game had started - I still have the radio broadcast)

They left Montreal tied for the wild card and had to play in home games in Puerto Rico. By the time they returned to Montreal on September 12 they were 7.5 games out of the wild card. They played six more home games to crowds of around 10,000.

Like most cities, if the ownership cares and tries to field a competitive team fans will come.
   43. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 25, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4477793)
It would be great if baseball returned to Montreal, but until we see viable ownership candidates willing to put up their own money and probably take a loss over the first few years, I'm somewhat skeptical.
   44. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: June 25, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4477974)
Ah, Montreal. One of my favorite subjects. If they'd let me live there year round I'd buy an inexpensive condo that needs work and head on up for a decade or so.

One of the worst stadiums in the league would be a big reason why. Montrealers hate the place. In a boring neighborhood on one side of town (and Montreal's kind of a weird place in that anglophones don't spend much time east of downtown while francophones don't spend much time west of downtown), it's a hot, domed, decrepit track stadium.

I'm sure it's atrocious by 2013 standards, but was it really that bad by 1994 standards, when old ballparks like Riverfront, Three Rivers, the Vet, Shea, etc., were still the rule rather than the exception?

It really wasn't that bad (imo), but iirc it lacked the deafening, bad pop music that plagues most stadia in the US. That alone would make any space wherein a baseball game was being played at least adequate. I'd put it at the time in the lower half of 1994 stadia, but it wasn't an actively unpleasant place to take in a ball game. Another way to put it was that it didn't enhance the game, the way a good stadium can, but it didn't hurt it, either (with things like badly angled seats, or obscured sightlines, or brutal echoes...).

I also don't recall Montrealers 'hating' the place. The attitude was more one of benign, not unfriendly contempt, such as that people have for the aunt in the family who reliably drinks too much and gets silly, but who doesn't end up groping the young male cousins, or turning casually racist, or do anything otherwise appalling.

Btw, there's a huge, terraced apartment building near the stadium that's wonderfully designed--built for Olympic athletes, then turned into condos for sale. Lots of outdoor space, lots of privacy for each apartment but without isolating the apartments from each other. My gf at the time and I spent a couple of hours just strolling up and down and through it while we talked architecture, enjoying the clean lines and the impressive intelligence that had gone into the building. The area around the stadium didn't have much going on of interest to fans before and after games, but it wasn't a wasteland, or a sea of parking lots and salvage yards, either.
   45. Russ Posted: June 26, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4478157)
To follow up my previous analysis of the Pirates, this is a graph of what happens when you adjust for average attendance by year in baseball in general. The numbers are a little fudged, as I didn't want to spend the time putting in the number of games played in each season, but I estimated this with the number of teams playing / 2 * numbers of games the Pirates played. This should be a good enough approximation to show what I want in the amount of time I have to do it.

New graph:

Link

Interpretation of the quick and dirty analysis:

X-axis is WPCT, Y-axis is Avg. Pittsburgh Attendance / Avg. MLB attendance. Obviously there is some fudging in there because the Pirate numbers are included in the denominator, but I'm lazy so I didn't take them out. The lines are simple OLS estimates. The solid is assuming that the relationship between WPCT and the ratio is constant between parks, the dashed lines allows for the relationship to change. Note that there is basically zero evidence in the data that the slopes are different (so the dashed lines should not be believed), there is moderate evidence of a difference between PNC and TRS adjusting for WPCT and general MLB attendance trendline. Obviously the brazen assumption here is that we can model what will happen in PNC with a club that finishes above .500. There is no data here, so we are at the whims of our assumptions. The most illuminating plot is the boxplot in the lower right corner. Here I am comparing only .500 or below seasons in an effort to not stretch assumptions. In this case, we clearly see that PNC is doing better for sub-.500 clubs, after adjusting for the general MLB attendance trend line.

It would be interesting to see what would happen with a .550+ season from the Pirates (or more interestingly, a couple of those seasons in a row). During the last "good" era of Pirate baseball (1988 - 1992), the Pirates were mostly around 85% of the overall average (better than what the model would predict). The model would predict that the Pirates should be around 98% of the overall average, which would be an average of about 30K per game and about a 5K increase over last season. I'm not sure when the model would start to break down given that the capacity of PNC Park is less than 80% of the capacity of TRS.
   46. Ron J2 Posted: June 26, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4478177)
#28 It wasn't Bronfman ->Loria. There was the intervening step of the partnership fronted by Claude Brochu.

This partnership featured some very wealthy (even by the standards of MLB ownership) guys who were utterly uninterested in putting a further dime into the team. Brochu had no personal wealth (Bronfman basically staked him to his share in the partnership) and was paid an annual bonus to refrain from making any cash calls.

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