Opinion: Critics of downtown ballpark take the plunge

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Admittedly, I am a strong supporter of such a project, but it is always difficult to understand how someone can pan before seeing the plan.

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Yes, the government of Quebec and the administration of the City of Montreal have had discussions with the baseball group led by Stephen Bronfman regarding the construction of a new stadium. The stadium would allow the city to potentially share the Tampa Bay Rays, one of Major League Baseball’s most successful on-field franchises. Starting in 2028 or possibly earlier, the team would play half of their home games in Montreal. The proposed outdoor ballpark downtown would anchor a surrounding development that my sources tell me is not just intended to turn Wellington Basin into an entertainment destination, but a major residential development that would include social, affordable and family-friendly activities. lodging.

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No, we don’t have all the details yet. The Bronfman Group has not yet made its plan public. Bronfman said in a December 14 media scrum that he planned to unveil the proposal for the stadium and surrounding development in the first quarter of 2022.

Yet this lack of detail hasn’t stopped some critics from objecting to any form of public partnership for a ballpark. Admittedly, I am a strong supporter of such a project, but it is still difficult for me to understand how someone can pan without seeing the plan.

In a column last month in the Montreal Gazette (“Return of baseball would be nice, but not for $1 billion,” Dec. 17), Allison Hanes argued that Montreal cannot afford to build a stadium just for the chance that baseball will return. But this simply would never be the case. Stephen Bronfman is recorded saying he’s not Kevin Costner isn’t that “if you build it, they’ll come” like in the baseball movie Field of Dreams. No shovel would go in the ground without an agreement that MLB home games definitely come to Montreal, he indicated.

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Last fall, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation also criticized the construction of any future baseball stadiums in Montreal, citing a years-old economic argument from a US study. No market study specific to Montreal was proposed. Meanwhile, Bronfman and the Montreal Baseball Group have been methodically examining the Greater Montreal area for years, to fully understand if Major League Baseball is viable.

Additionally, in a Dec. 14 press release, the federation criticized the Bronfman baseball group’s request for public funding, evidently based on unconfirmed information, with no evidence that these are the real numbers.

So why are some people so adamantly opposed to the ballpark and surrounding development? Maybe they don’t like baseball. I’m not a fan of classical music. But you don’t see me seeking public assistance for the Orchester symphonique de Montréal. To each their own, as long as it makes sense and the plan is solid.

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The truth is, Montreal is in desperate need of the revitalization an outdoor crown jewel can provide. After all, rock band U2 had to build their own temporary outdoor stadium on Décarie Boulevard. just to give two shows here a few years ago.

An outdoor stadium would not only be used for Major League Baseball. The Montreal Canadiens have never hosted a classic outdoor NHL winter game. Various amateur sports organizations, including Baseball Canada and Baseball Quebec, could train and use the site, just as Tennis Canada’s youth programs flourished in Montreal thanks to the facilities at Jarry Park. Who knows, maybe the Montreal Alouettes could come out of their confinement at McGill and also play in this new stadium. Gigs. Special events. The possibilities are limitless.

When you know that several Canadian cities have all built or renovated stadiums or arenas (Winnipeg, Regina, Hamilton, Edmonton, Vancouver…), it’s surprising that Montreal doesn’t have something new of its own.

So, rather than making a judgment call prematurely, shouldn’t we all be patient and wait to see the full plan? That seems reasonable to me.

Matthew Ross is a TSN Radio 690 host and the founder of ExposNation. twitter.com/matthewwords

  1. Montreal baseball fans fill the stands during a Major League Baseball preseason between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets at Olympic Stadium on March 28, 2014.

    Hanes: We can’t afford to play Moneyball

  2. Montreal baseball fans fill the stands during a Major League Baseball preseason between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Friday, March 28, 2014.

    Mayoral candidates would like baseball to return – as long as Montreal does not pay for it

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