MONTREAL – Former Expo Warren Cromartie has been telling anyone who would listen that pro baseball “should” come back to Montreal.
On Thursday, his dream was backed up with a new feasibility study.
“We’re closer to our goal than any other time in the last decade,” the 60-year-old Cromartie told reporters Thursday.
The survey put together by the Montreal Board of Trade concludes the return of the Expos could be financially viable.
The project would cost $1.02 billion – about half that amount ($520 M) to acquire a franchise, and the other half ($500 M) to build a new downtown ballpark.
Here’s the catch: most of the stadium’s construction costs, about $330 million, would have to be paid by taxpayers.
The study explains the Quebec government would get back every penny – in taxes.
“The investment would be repaid in about eight years,” says Montreal Board of Trade CEO Michel Leblanc.
“The government will support the investment of the stadium and recuperate the cost through the tax revenues.”
The group lists five potential locations for the new ballpark:
– In Griffintown, near the Peel Bassin
– Off the Bonaventure Expressway
– At the old Hippodrome racetrack
– At Olympic Stadium
– The area around the Montreal Children’s Hospital
Baseball analyst Rodger Bruoltte considers the hospital site the most interesting.
“If that site could ever be available for a baseball stadium, it has everything you could ask for,” Bruoltte told Global News.
“It has the metro, it has highways, everything is there.”
Other studies and a business plan will be put together in the coming weeks and months.
Cromartie says a number of local businessmen are being courted to invest in the venture.
He admits until someone with “deep pockets” comes forward, his dream will remain a dream.
“We’re looking for a big player, a clean-up hitter,” says Cromartie. “We need a champion.”
Read the full feasibility study here:
Feasibility Study Examining the return of major league baseball to Montreal