Quebec authorities has ‘barely’ begun to look into Montreal baseball promoters’ pitch

Quebec has ‘barely’ begun to address a pitch made by promoters who want to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal, according to Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon.

On the sidelines of an economic announcement in Montreal on Monday, he said he wants to approach the issue from the perspective of bringing back a professional team rather than financing a new stadium.

He also acknowledged the delicate nature of the ‘complex’ matter to evaluate possible economic benefits.

Affirming that it was “premature” to say the Legault government would financially back the business venture, Fitzgibbon preferred to refer to the project as the return of a “baseball team” rather than the construction of a “stadium.”

After all, there is already one “empty” stadium in Quebec City and another “not too full” in Montreal, he said.

“The Quebec government doesn’t need a “third stadium on its balance sheet,” he said.

The issue of a possible financial contribution from Quebec City came to the forefront of discussions as the Montreal Baseball Group — led by businessman Stephen Bronfman — recently changed its registration with the Quebec Lobbyists Registry.

For the first time, it mentioned an investment of public money to build a stadium with a community complex in Montreal’s Griffintown neighbourhood.

Last week, Premier François Legault opened the door to some form of participation if the tax revenues generated by the venture are greater than the amount the government would have to pay.

According to calculations made by La Presse, the revenue from taxes paid by the players of a team that divided its time between Montreal and Tampa Bay would come to about $4.25 million for the Quebec government.

When asked, Fitzgibbon said that there were “other elements that must be considered,” but did not elaborate.

The minister also said he was open to studying any stadium project even if it were, for example, to be built elsewhere than in the location Bronfman’s group has envisaged.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

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