How Montreal and Tampa Bay can share a professional baseball team
It’s been 15 years since Montreal had a Major League Baseball franchise, but now the city could be one step closer to hosting a team.
The Tampa Bay Rays have received the green light to look into playing a split season between Montreal and their current home of St. Petersburg, Florida.
While the move is far from being a done deal, with the mayor of St. Petersburg saying the team can’t explore playing home games outside his city before 2028, the news has rekindled faith in Montreal.
Leading the charge is Claridge Executive Chairman Stephen Bronfman, whose father Charles Bronfman was the original owner of the Montreal Expos, which played three and a half decades in the city before moving to Washington in 2005.
Here’s a look at the group of Montreal business tycoons working to bring baseball back to the city.
Stephen Bronfman, executive chairman of Claridge Inc.
Bronfman leads the group of investors interested in bringing professional baseball back to Montreal. Last month, he announced an agreement to develop land in the city to build a new stadium. Bronfman said in a statement Thursday that his group of partners have been working hard for several years to bring baseball back to the city in a “sustainable manner.”
“This concept is definitely one that is of interest to my partners and me and we are looking forward to studying this further," Bronfman said about the possibility of sharing the Rays.
Pierre Boivin, president and chief executive officer of Claridge Inc.
Boivin has a long history of being involved in sports in Canada: from founding and leading equipment companies such as Norvinca Inc., Canstar Sports Inc., and Weider Sporting Goods Inc.; to becoming the president and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens in 1999; to a stint with Special Olympics Canada. He serves as a board member of the Montreal Canadiens, Canadian Tire Corp., and National Bank of Canada. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 2010.
Alain Bouchard, founder and executive chairman of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
Bouchard co-founded convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard in 1980 with a single store. Now, the company has 16,000 stores world-wide. Bouchard retired as president and CEO of Couche-Tard in 2014 after 25 years at the helm. He’s also an officer of the Order of Canada, and a board member of Montreal-based tech consulting giant CGI Inc.
Mitch Garber (pictured right), chairman of Cirque du Soleil and Invest in Canada
Garber, a lawyer and businessman who previously hosted a sports talk radio show in Montreal, became the chairman of Cirque du Soleil in 2015. Before that, he led the online gambing unit of Caesars Entertainment Group. He’s currently also the chairman of federal agency Invest in Canada. In addition to supporting the efforts to bring baseball back to Montreal, he’s also a minority owner of the new Seattle NHL expansion team, which will begin playing in the 2021-22 season.
Eric Boyko, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Stingray Digital Group Inc.
Boyko co-founded digital music provider Stingray Digital in 2007. The company went public in 2015, and has been growing through acquisitions. Boyko is also a board member of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Stéphan Crétier, founder, president and chief executive officer of GardaWorld
Crétier founded security company GardaWorld in 1995 with a $25,000 investment from a second mortgage. Now, the security company employs 65,000 people and operates in 33 countries. Crétier is also part of a group of business leaders wanting to bring an NBA team to Montreal.