Montreal mayor taking big swing to bring baseball back to city
MONTREAL — Montreal’s biggest ambassador of baseball is taking another swing, trying to convince Major League Baseball officials that he and the rest of the city are serious about bringing the sport back.
Denis Coderre has written a letter co-authored by Stephen Bronfman to all 30 teams in the major leagues, trying to convince the owners that Montreal is the future city of the summer sport.
Coderre has been behind a campaign to see the Expos return ever since he was elected in 2013.
The mayor has already met with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and has appeared at the exhibition games at the Olympic Stadium between the Toronto Blue Jays and other teams in the last two years.
“Oh, I love it. I love baseball. You love baseball?” Coderre asked rhetorically at a City Hall news conference Friday morning.
Not far away, baseball fans taking swings and throwing balls at Baseball Town, an indoor hitting cage in Laval, showed their support for the mayor’s latest lobbying effort.
“I’m a big fan and I wish to bring my daughter to see the Expos,” Jean-Christian Dionne said in between practice swings.
But not everyone is convinced it will happen soon.
In addition to the political will, some deep pockets from investors who are also fans of the game are required.
“We’ve had a team and we’ve lost it,” said Steve Lacoste, manager of Baseball Town. “So I’m not sure that they’re that willing to come back as easy as people make it out to be.”
Money to build a new stadium and acquire a MLB team could quickly add up to more than $1 billion.
There is also the issue of where to build a new stadium and whether Montreal has the fan base to keep a professional team here for the long term.
Coderre is convinced it can be pulled off but others insist it could be years before Montrealers here play ball at the MLB level again.
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