No Limit

A new downtown ballpark is one major concern to all baseball fans. It's an issue that will be discussed in depth on No Limit. Updates concerning the stadium will be posted here.

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On June 20, 1997, Expos president Claude Brochu unveiled plans for a new, downtown baseball stadium with a retractable roof to be constructed two blocks south of the Molson Centre on a site on which the Expos already hold an option. Home plate would be situated near the corner of Notre Dame and Mountain, with the outfield opening up to a spectacular view of the Montreal skyline to the northeast. It would include 62 loges with 902 seats, 10,332 VIP seats, 7,876 box seats, 11,790 terrace seats and 4,200 bleacher seats. There would be two restaurants, one with 300 seats and one with 400 seats, both with a view of the field, 140 concession stands and a piped heating system that would warm at least the seats near the field on chilly days in spring and fall.

The roof would be stored on the Notre Dame side of the field and pulled out over nine metal struts, permanently suspended 55 metres above the field. It would take about 15 minutes to open or close the roof, which would account for $45 million of the $250-million stadium cost. There is a second roof design under consideration, copied from the new stadium planned for Milwaukee: this roof is a fan design which would cost $65 million. The advantage is that it would be dropped in four or five sections from two arches that intersect over home plate and the arches would be aesthetically more attractive than the struts of the umbrella roof. The fan roof, however, would cover only the playing field, not the stands.

Downtown MontrealInside the park

On June 21, 1997, less than 24 hours after Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard ruled out the possibility of provincial aid for the Expos' proposed stadium, Serge Ménard, the minister responsible for Montreal, told reporters that he sincerely hoped the Expos will remain in the city. Many interpreted this to mean that public financing is still being considered. Ménard said he was impressed by the Expos' plans to raise $80 million through the sale of 18,000 seat licenses, but cautioned the government won't be blackmailed into helping the team.

Seat licenses are not season tickets; when you buy one you own the seat, which means that you have the right to buy the season ticket for that season or to sell it to someone else. The licenses themselves will sell for between $500 and $10,000. Payments can be made over a four-year period. The funds will be held in a trust fund and repaid with interest if the project does not go through. If the seat-license campaign is not successful, Brochu made it clear the Expos will be sold - immediately. The team would probably be moved to a city in the United States.

During a press conference marking the end of the National Assembly's spring session, Bouchard responded to a question about provincial aid for the stadium with a dose of reality. "There isn't any open door," the premier said. "We all know what's been happening in Quebec, and we know that there's already a stadium in Montreal that cost a lot of money, and it's still not paid for. When we're closing hospitals it's not certain that we're going to open stadiums, especially when there's a big one there already."

Mayor Pierre Bourque said he liked the idea of a downtown ballpark, but ruled out any civic investment. "We have to keep the Expos here," Bourque told reporters. "They're a fabulous team. They're part of the personality of this city. Of course, Mr. Brochu will have to be the one who raises the money from the private sector. We're in a tough financial situation now, so the city can't contribute any money to the project."

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