Montreal seeks to reach first base with MLB

Tue Oct 4, 2016 10:10pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Montreal is making a pitch to bring back Major League Baseball (MLB) to "La Belle Province" but has not reached first base in a lengthy process that is yet to really start, said commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday.

As another capacity crowd of close to 50,000 filed into the Rogers Centre for the American League wildcard game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, Manfred gushed about the baseball boom sweeping across Canada.

He offered nothing but positive support for the Montreal effort, but the commissioner also warned his Canadian audience of obstacles ahead before MLB returns to a city it left in 2004 because of poor attendance, inept ownership and a decaying stadium.

Before the league considers expansion, Manfred said a new collective bargaining agreement must be negotiated, with the current deal set to expire in December. Also, troublesome stadium issues in Tampa and Oakland need to be resolved.

"I like Canada so much I even went on vacation in Canada this year," began Manfred, playing up to his Canadian hosts. "There are two or three things that need to happen.

"First we need a new agreement, nothing is going to happen on that front (expansion) until we make a new agreement. Secondly, there are two stadium situations.

"Hopefully we are going to make good progress on both of those situations and then it would begin first with an internal debate as to whether baseball wants to go to 32."

Montreal and Mexico City are believed to be at the top of any MLB expansion list.   Continued...

Oct 4, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Michael Bourn (1) catches a fly ball during the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League wild card playoff baseball game at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports