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Quebec opposition parties slam proposal to help finance baseball stadium

Click to play video: 'Move to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal stirs major opposition' Move to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal stirs major opposition
WATCH: The group working to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal wants the province to contribute a hefty amount of money to build the stadium. Quebec politicians promise that if they do give money, it will come at no cost to taxpayers. But as Gloria Henriquez reports, many say the plan makes no sense for Quebecers' wallets. – Dec 7, 2021

Since the Montreal Expos moved out of town in 2004, many have been dreaming of the moment when they can have the team back home.

But that dream could cost fans and all Quebecers a pretty penny.

According to a report in La Presse, the Montreal Baseball Group — which is working to bring baseball back to Montreal — could be asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and subsidies from Quebec to build a brand-new stadium in the Peel Bassin.

“I’m in discussions with the group,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s economy minister and self-proclaimed baseball minister. “But it’s premature to announce anything.”

While he didn’t have anything to say on the matter on Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault has said before that if they give any money, it would be at no cost to taxpayers.

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Read more: Montreal is ready and willing to welcome Major League Baseball team — study

“The principle that we would use to help — or not — this baseball team is to see how much additional revenue do we expect to get from this activity,” Legault told reporters back in March when the question came up.

The pitch doesn’t sit well with the province’s opposition parties.

“We take people for idiots when we say that,” said Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade about Legault’s statement.

“There are a lot of priorities that we have on our plate right now, that should not be one of them.”

Read more: Montreal baseball stadium proposal requires independent public consultations, report says

Quebec Solidaire’s Vincent Marissal agrees and doesn’t believe taxpayers should pay for a stadium.

“MLB is not an OBNL,” Marissal said. “As you know, it’s a major profitable company that is making billions of dollars.”

Concordia University economy professor Moshe Lander also argues the proposal is not good value for Quebecers’ money.

“Stadiums and arenas don’t deliver bang for your buck when public funds are involved; it’s merely a way for an ownership group to try and hold the city hostage, that, ‘If you don’t give it to me, I’m sure somebody else would,'” Lander explained.

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For the past few years, the Montreal Baseball Group lead by Stephen Bronfman has been in talks with Major League Baseball (MLB) about the possibility of bringing the Expos back.

Read more: Tampa Bay Rays’ split season in Montreal won’t happen before 2028

There’s a potential plan to split the Tampa Bay Rays season with Montreal. A new stadium can help seal the deal.

“Obviously, if there’s no stadium, there’s not going to be a team,” said Jeremy Filosa, 98.5 FM’s sports reporter.

“You need a certain contribution from the government. I think it would be crazy to think they would be able to build a whole stadium themselves and all the infrastructure around it.”

The Montreal Baseball Group declined to comment.

But it’s safe to say that if they don’t get the money, it would be a major curveball in their plan to bring baseball back to town.

— with files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher

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