Bronfman's Montreal Baseball Group looks for government cash for stadium
MONTREAL -- For the first time in a long time, there's some news on the possible return of Major League Baseball in Montreal.
Stephen Bronfman's Montreal Baseball Group has revised its registration with the Quebec Registry of Lobbyists, stating that it is now seeking to discuss with the Quebec government the financing of a sports complex and what form that financing might take.
"Since last year, the Montreal Baseball Group has made great strides in developing the sister city project in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays, including the design of a new sports and community complex on the Wellington Basin site," the group said in a statement emailed to The Canadian Press.
"We want to discuss, in the coming months, with the Quebec government, the economic impacts of our project and the form that a financial contribution for the construction of the sports and community complex could take," it continued.
For the moment, the group has not requested financial assistance from the federal government, nor the City of Montreal. However, it has added two lobbyists to its list: William Jegher of financial firm EY and Richard Epstein of BCF Lawyers will join Bronfman and Pierre Boivin, president of Claridge, the Bronfman family's investment firm.
Bronfman and his partners hope to locate their new stadium with a community complex in Griffintown on land owned by Canada Lands Company, a Crown corporation. The group has formed a partnership with real estate developer Devimco to purchase and develop the land.
The Montreal Baseball Group wants to become a partial shareholder in the Tampa Bay Rays so that the team plays half its games in Montreal and the other half in St. Petersburg, where the team, owned by Stuart Sternberg, is also trying to get a stadium built.
Splitting the city between the two markets would eliminate the need for a full-size stadium in Montreal or a retractable or non-retractable roof in Florida, thereby greatly reducing costs.
For now, there are no concrete plans for a stadium on the Rays' side. The team owner confirmed in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times in December that the sister city project with Montreal is 'the only option' for him.
In that same interview, Sternberg told the Times that the Rays have made "tremendous progress" in recent months in Montreal, specifically on stadium plans and the business plan with the group led by Stephen Bronfman.
"Not only am I very encouraged, but I'm more than pleased with the way things are progressing," he said.
On his end, Stephen Bronfman indicated last July in an e-mail sent to The Canadian Press that "despite the pandemic that has slowed down some of our work, our respective teams are progressing very well in the analysis of all aspects of this exciting project."
People close to the file assured that the project is moving forward, "but at a slower pace than what was hoped for 2020."
- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.