Selig: MLB relocation, expansion not being considered

{eot} Staff
3/28/2014 6:24:55 PM
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Major League Baseball may one day return to Montreal, but that day will not be coming any time soon, according to Bud Selig.

Speaking with TSN's Michael Farber, the commissioner said that while franchise relocation and expansion is not currently being considered, the 'sour' ending of baseball in Montreal would not keep the city from being awarded a franchise in the future.

"With the 30 teams, you know we just went from 15 to 15 in scheduling, that was a very complicated process so there are really no expansion plans at all," he explained. "Fortunately, we don't really have any club that wants to move right now and haven't for a long time. It's my last year and I can't, in the foreseeable future, see any expansion."

Selig didn't rule out the possibility of Montreal landing a franchise again in the future, but added that one of the key steps would be getting a new stadium.

"The first thing you need, and this has been true everywhere, even in existing places, is to build a stadium that can produce the kind of revenue you need today to compete," he said. "This is a sport now that is at an all-time high in popularity and revenue and everything else, but teams do generate a lot of revenue to compete and without a new ballpark, it's not possible. So the first condition everywhere is to have a new ballpark."

Selig also noted that having a local owner is crucial in establishing a franchise in a city.

"You really need a group with local roots, who understands their market, but is also committed to keeping it in that market," he added. "Local ownership is vital."

Speaking on the Expos and the series of events that led to their relocation in 2004, Selig said that he did not necessarily believe the sale of the franchise in 1991 was the "death knell" for the Expos, but called it "a sad day for baseball and a sad day for Montreal."

He added that as the team was failing in the early 2000's, he tried to find another owner in Montreal to keep the team in the city, but couldn't find support.

"(I) spent quite a bit of time, worked a lot with (team president) Claude Brochu, who was very good," said Selig. "Claude did everything in the world he could, and he was a wonderful citizen when it came to baseball. 

I know how he felt about Montreal, it just didn't work, but it wasn't for lack of effort. I came up there and we tried and we just didn't get anywhere."

The commissioner also disagreed with the sentiment of some fans that Major League Baseball quit on the city of Montreal long before moving the Expos.

"That's regrettable," he said. "I don't believe that, in understanding of the historical facts and what happened, justifies that. I don't think MLB ever quit on Montreal. I think what happened, if you asked before and after Charles Bronfman sold the team, you bet I worked a lot with people to try to get permanent ownership and stable ownership but they obviously had a stadium problem. The Montreal people themselves talked about it a lot. So, I really don't think it was a matter of us quitting on Montreal. Montreal was a great part of baseball for all the years Charles Bronfman owned them, we had no reason to go against that in any way. I think we (MLB), every place we have been, we have made a very sincere attempt to really change the situation, and build stability into it, and we've succeeded everywhere else. And we tried in Montreal."

With a decade gone by and the Expos firmly entrenched in Washington, D.C. as the Nationals, Selig added that the 'sour' ending of baseball in Montreal would not keep the city from being awarded a franchise in the future.

"The Montreal situation was one that we didn't want to happen, but with no ownership group and the very things that we have discussed here today, we had no choice," he said. "But as far as I'm concerned, if and when that time comes, and there is a team, why wouldn't Montreal be considered?"

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