Montrealers won't pay for an Expos stadium - at least according to new Florida billboard
MONTREAL -- There may be a lot of baseball fans in Quebec pining for the sport to return to Montreal, but you wouldn't know it if you were coming out of the Tropicana Stadium in Tampa Bay.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) made their views on the issue known Monday in the form of a large outdoor billboard outside the Florida venue that claims Canadian taxpayers don’t want to foot the bill for a new stadium in Montreal.
There's been a lot of buzz around the idea that the Florida team could play part of their season in Montreal. The CTF says no way.
“If the Rays want to come and play baseball in Montreal, they are more than welcome to do so," said Renaud Brossard of the CTF.
"We might even buy tickets to come see them. But if they want us to pay for their new stadium, that’s a big no-no."
Montreal hasn’t had it’s own team in 20 years, since the Expos moved to Washington, D.C.
But moving a team back into the city would likely mean a new stadium that would come with a high price tag.
“It is not taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for a new ballpark for millionaire and billionaire sports team owners, said Brossard.
Others who are dreaming of baseball’s big return, however, suggest the federation is grandstanding, before they even have all the facts.
“The billboard situation in Tampa Bay is nonsense," said the founder of ExposNation, Matthew Ross.
"They’re saying they don’t want to spend money on anything in Montreal relating to baseball, but they haven’t seen plans, they haven’t seen a budget. They don’t even know what the ask is."
Still, the idea of a stadium has been kicking around for years. A group of Montreal business people that includes Stephen Bronfman has been lobbying for a new venue to be built near the Peel basin.
The province has said it’s too soon to know how it could be financed and that it’s still under discussion.
And the Tampa Bay Rays aren’t going anywhere soon. The lease the team holds on the Tropicana Stadium is good for another six years and it’s unlikely it would move to another field before then.
Nonetheless, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it’s important to have a say in the debate now so that the population can give some thought to the value of “spending a couple of hundred million bucks on a ballpark.”
“We have crumbling road infrastructure, both in Montreal and in the province of Quebec, our healthcare system is struggling," said Brossard.
"Those are all things where the government could invest some money."