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Bronfman presents vision for Peel Basin at public consultation office, including baseball stadium

Stephen Bronfman speaks to the media about the prospect of Major League Baseball returning to Montreal Wednesday, June 26, 2019.
Stephen Bronfman speaks to the media about the prospect of Major League Baseball returning to Montreal Wednesday, June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Businessman Stephen Bronfman and his right-hand man, Pierre Boivin, visited the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) to present their vision for the development of the Peel Basin on Thursday evening.

Bronfman told the OCPM that the stadium is a “dream project” for him and that it would be focused on being eco-responsible.

For example, he says the stadium will capture all water coming from rain and snow to run their toilets. They plan do their our own composting and to feature geo-thermal energy — power derived from the Earth’s internal heat.

“We’re building for the next century… We’re not going to have the same fossil fuels, population is going to keep growing and we have to be mindful of energy use, we have to be mindful of waste, we have to be mindful of so many things and people are in a different place,” the businessman said.

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Two things the stadium won’t feature are a roof nor parking.

Bronfman says the stadium will have heated floors which will allow Montrealers to enjoy the stadium during colder months. “And we’re Montrealers, we’ll put on another sweater,” he joked.

As for parking, he believes public transportation will be sufficient to bring people to the site.

The Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is planning to include a station in the Peel Bassin.

The executive chairman of Claridge has been open about wanting to bring back a Major League Baseball team to the city.

Bronfman’s plan for the Bridge-Wellington area is expected to include a baseball stadium complete with 32,000 seats.

READ MORE: Split season with Montreal seen as way to preserve baseball in Tampa

Boivin, president and CEO of Claridge, will lead the neighbourhood’s residential and commercial development in partnership with developer Devimco, which will also be at the meeting.

Stephen Bronfman on board for Tampa Bay Rays to share season with Montreal
Stephen Bronfman on board for Tampa Bay Rays to share season with Montreal

Bronfman and Devimco are hoping to acquire one million square feet of land in Montreal’s Griffintown neighbourhood, one of the last near the downtown core still left to be developed. The land is owned by the Canada Lands Company, a public body.

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Some community groups in the area have already voiced their opposition to a major league club in the neighbourhood, insisting instead that Griffintown needs more social housing.

“In this whole redevelopment of Bridge-Bonaventure, it’s a 2.3 km long track of land and it’s going to be a whole mixed-used development. So there’s going to be plenty of social housing, there’s going to plenty of business,” Bronfman reacted. “I don’t see it as a problem.”

Building a stadium would be the latest step in Bronfman’s endeavour to bring back an MLB franchise to the city.

READ MORE: Throwback Expos day at D.C. baseball game divides Montrealers and Americans

Last June, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg announced he had received permission from MLB to explore the possibility of sharing the season between St. Petersburg and Montreal — an unprecedented project that would require the construction of new stadiums. 

Investors on board with the idea of bringing baseball back to Montreal
Investors on board with the idea of bringing baseball back to Montreal

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has already spoken out against the project, noting the contract that binds the Rays to his municipality at Tropicana Field — valid until 2027 — states that all games must be played there.

“We’re still waiting for an approval from the city of St. Petersburg to really start digging deep. As soon as the off-season starts that should be coming,” Bronfman said.

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There have been three meetings between the Rays and the mayor’s office so far with no conclusion yet.

READ MORE: Montreal is ready and willing to welcome Major League Baseball team — study

On Wednesday, Bronfman, Richard Epstein and William Jegher, who are part of the Montreal Group, travelled to see the the Tampa Bay Rays win against the Oakland Athletics.

Sternberg was quick to point out to the Tampa Bay Times that he had not explicitly invited Bronfman and his group, but he had facilitated the purchase of the tickets for the Montrealer, whom he noted is “a big fan of baseball.”

–With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez