Hopes that Major League Baseball could return to Montreal by relocating the struggling Tampa Bay Rays franchise were dashed this morning when it was announced that the Desmarais family, which owns Power Corporation and various companies including newspaper publisher Gesca, has purchased the team and will be moving it to their exclusive private ballpark in their 76.3-square-kilometre estate in Sagard, Quebec, after this season.
The Desmarais family did not provide any further details, such as what they would name the team, but did say that the ballpark would remain private and games would be attended on an invite-only basis.
Buying the Rays (the cheapest valued MLB team, but still a hefty $485 million) simply to provide some entertainment to a handful of VIP guests a couple of times a year seems a bit excessive. But I think it’s best to wait until we get a better idea of their plans before we make judgments.
Many questions remain unanswered, such as what television rights would look like, or whether the team would try to build a fan base in Quebec City or Montreal. Perhaps a few home games could even be moved to Olympic Stadium.
All we can say for sure is that geographically speaking, there aren’t too many Montrealers who will make the six-hour one-way drive to Sagard to see a weeknight game.