Naturally, following a deal yesterday that shifts the entire Canadian TV landscape, there has been a whole lot of speculation about just what the hell the heavily hockey-dependent TSN, who have been frozen out of the incoming 12-year national NHL TV and digital media rights deal, might have to do as they search for content in the wake of such a large loss to their main competition.

For example, Morgan Campbell wrote about the potential challenges today for the Toronto Star, noting that additional basketball coverage could certainly be an option for the network during the winter months, though the audience for the NBA– and its lone Canadian franchise– will be dwarfed by the numbers pulled in for their competitors’ hockey package.

Interestingly, though, Campbell cites one of that network’s main strengths:

TSN has a strong track record of developing sports properties into strong national brands. Under TSN’s direction, the world junior hockey championship has developed into Canada’s equivalent of the NCAA’s March Madness — the highest-profile, highest-stakes competition for the best amateurs in the sport.

The network has also been the exclusive broadcaster of CFL games since 2008, building that league into a powerful television franchise. Last year’s Grey Cup drew 5.8 million viewers, and this season’s Western final was the country’s most-viewed sports event two weekends ago, outranking Hockey Night in Canada.

Doubly interestingly, it’s not just TSN who faces this predicament, of course, but their French language counterpart, RDS. And if you read the title of this post, you already know where this is going…

While it may not be winter programming to counter what Rogers and their new partners will be offering, uh… there’s one idea that could prove rather intriguing, and that Jon Morosi, Keith Law, and Jonah Keri got to talking about yesterday on Twitter (which, for some reason, I’ve Storify’d below!):


Now, obviously there would be some obstacles if anybody at Bell Media actually wanted to get serious about this– aside from the ones you’ve already ascertained, by their being delineated above.

There’s not necessarily an opportunity to acquire a team at the moment (though the situations in Oakland and Tampa aren’t exactly idea). Expansion doesn’t seem to be on the cards any time soon (though Paul Beeston has said he’d welcome Montreal baseball back, and, rightly, thinks two leagues of 16 teams would be ideal– i.e. no more interleague at all times!). The current stadium, though being brought up to code for Spring Training baseball next March, is not remotely a viable facility, and the cost to build a new one will be astronomical.

On the plus side, though, Bud Selig is on his way out, and maybe a new voice in the commissioner’s office will make for a change in the procees. And, of course, there is already a group pushing for a return of the Expos– the Montreal Baseball Project, and Warren Cromartie.

Hey, you never know, right? It’s pie-in-the-sky stuff, for sure– I definitely wouldn’t be one to bank on it, myself– but I don’t know… maybe yesterday’s news helped make a resurrected Expos club a step closer to reality. That’d be alright.

Comments (78)

  1. Rivalry?

    • maybe bell will just buy the blue jays… rogers has a shitload of content right now.

      • Yeah…. no. Rogers owns the team. The radio franchise. The TV broadcasts. The stadium.

        The hockey deal they just did is an extension of a “content is king” strategy that they’ve already implemented with the Jays. There’s just no reason at all for them to back down on the Jays.

  2. 32 teams would be rad, but you’d either have to deal with uneven divisions again, or split each league into four-team divisions and then all of a sudden you have NFL-style playoffs.

    • Or maybe with four divisions each, they’d just can the Wild Card. Hmmm.

    • 2 divisions of 8 wouldn’t be so bad. Back to the ol’ AL east/west

      • 2 of 8 is great……but now we have to fight with the tigers crazy dream teams to go along with hardest Div in Baseball……ugh…..anyone else feel like a leaf fan.

      • Here we go: 32 teams, 4 8-team division. For argument’s sake, my other expansion team was the NL’s Portland Granola-Munchers.

        NL WEST
        PORTLAND, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego, Houston (BACK TO THE NL WITH YOU!), Cincinnati, Chicago

        NL EAST
        MONTREAL, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Washington, Miami, Atlanta

        AL WEST
        LAA, Seattle, Oakland, Colorado, Texas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minnesota

        AL EAST
        Boston, New York, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Baltimore

        Playoffs in each league:
        1. Division winner
        2. Division winner
        3. Next best record
        4. One-game playoff between the second and third-next-best records

        Call me, Bud.

        • Working off your 32 team idea, I think 4 divisions of 4 in each league would be better.

          AL East: New York Yankees, Boston, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore
          AL North: Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Minnesota
          AL West: Los Angeles Angels, Oakland, Seattle, Texas
          AL South: Tampa Bay, Miami, Houston, Kansas City

          NL East: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Mets, Washington
          NL North: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee
          NL West: San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles Dodgers, Portland
          NL South: Colorado, Arizona, St. Louis, Atlanta

          Top team from each division makes playoffs, two wildcards in each league with best remaining record advance. NFL-style playoffs where top 2 records in each league receive first round bye in “Wildcard” round, winners from Wildcard round play top 2 teams in Divisional round. Winners of Divisional face each other in the League Championship Series, and the two League Champions face one another in the World Series.

          12/32 teams make playoffs (37.5%), which is only a slight increase on the current setup of 33.3%, but still signficantly lower than the NHL and NBA (53.3%).

          • Problem with this is giving a bye. Complete fucks up pitching rotations. Unless round 1 is 1 game or at most 3, it just won’t work.

    • Or just 2 leagues of 16. Scrap the divisions.

    • Not necessarily, if you had the top two teams in each division play off … another four teams in the playoffs would mean more revenue

      • And the world series would probably end sometime around American Thanksgiving…

        • could go with 4 div, the two top teams in the AL and NL get byes, then the 2 wild cards face off vs the other two div winners, just like the NFL

          then we would still see Oct WS

          best of 5
          best of 5
          best of 7

          adds another round, but with 32 teams, not a bad way to go. 6 teams make playoffs, the 1 game playoff for 4th spot is gone, i dont really like it anyways, unless the bluejays make it lol

  3. I’d love to see a team back in Montreal.
    Would be on the short list of mandatory road trips.
    Is it possible to go to Montreal without having fun?
    I don’t think so.

  4. Bring it on baby!

  5. “There’s not necessarily an opportunity to acquire a team at the moment (though the situations in Oakland and Tampa aren’t exactly idea)”

    Should be “ideal.” Third-last paragraph.

  6. God creates Expos
    God destroys Expos
    God creates man
    Man destroys God
    Man creates Expos.

  7. having lived in montreal for 5 years I don’t see it as a baseball town. but then again is Tampa Bay a baseball town?

    I’m not sure why there is never any talk for putting a team in vancouver, i get that its sort of close to Seattle but its not like people from Vancouver go over there often, its mostly for Jays games.

    Baseball is in BC’s dna and it will easily be a successful franchise, not sure why they’ve never gotten a chance.

    • Which five years, though?

      As for Vancouver, not sure how that would work re: territorial rights. I’d have to look it up– assume they’re far enough away– but as you say, Seattle consternation would be a thing.

      • seattle is about as far from Van as…
        GTA is to Detroit.

        • well, to be more correct
          Van to Seattle – 3hrs
          T.O. 4 hrs to detroit

          • The geography of the divisions is ridiculous. The Jays 3 closest rivals, geographically speaking, are Detroit (4 hours), Cleveland and Pittsburgh (about 5 hours). Even Cincinnati is only a 9-hour drive from Toronto, whereas New York, Boston and Baltimore are all further out, let alone Tampa Bay. None of the geography will be perfect, but in an era where more and more fans are willing to make the effort to travel with the team, throw them a bone, right?

            • think it was in terms of market share, not fan travel

              Seattle games are on BC TV a lot
              if you have a BC team
              do those games get cut off, and cost Seattle long term cash?

      • Ya we’d hardly be able to contain our passive-aggressive tweeting.

    • I love Vancouver and love the Nat, but it just doesn’t have the population base yet. Rains too often and damn cold evenings in the summers (just like Seattle, so would need a covered stadium with retractable roof). The Canadians play a short-season schedule which is why these problems are less obvious.
      I’d also have to think losing the city’s NBA franchise would colour any potential view of putting another pro-sports team there.

    • A perennial topic of discussion since the Expos left Montreal. Compared to other expansion destinations like Portland, Charlotte or Memphis, the numbers bare out well. With growth holding steady at around 5% over the last decade, and a much stronger Canadian dollar at play, the outlook for pro baseball in Montreal is almost the exact opposite of what it was when the Expos left town. Too many people sell Montreal short on their love of the game. Here’s a city that has deeper MLB roots than any city in Canada, including Toronto, and all people remember are the difficult 90s.

  8. Doesn’t seem feasable to me. I think it’d be awesome but I won’t hold my breath.

  9. But get them in the American League. Get them in the same division as the Jays.

  10. Van City Baby!

    Check out the Canadians, MiLB’s best Franchise two years running. West Coasters love baseball!

  11. It would be neat if 8 teams in each league made the playoffs – 50% of the league. Last season in the AL you’d have Boston, Oakland, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Texas, Kansas City and Baltimore… In the NL there’d have been Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington, Arizona and San Diego. Obviously the NL fucks up that argument a little, but imagine teams like San Diego and Kansas City receiving some playoff revenue? It’s a big deal.

    But, to get to 32 teams, you’d need 2 new cities for expansion and potentially 2 new cities for relocation if Tampa and Oakland continue to go tits up. I know years ago the cities bandied around the most were San Antonio and Portland, and a team in Mexico or Puerto Rico would probably be considered as well. States like North Carolina, Utah and Louisiana are not represented, though they have teams in other sports. There’s also been talk in the past that New York/New Jersey could support another team (Brooklyn?)

    The point is, even if baseball did expand, Montreal still isn’t a slam dunk. It would be AWESOME to see a team return there though.

  12. It’s all warm and fuzzy felings. I don’t think there’s anyone who has a problem with it but realistically, where’s all this cash coming from?
    There also needs to be the will of the general population.
    I heard that when the Habs are going bad you can buy tickets for that days game.
    Montreal fans can be more fickel than any other city.
    I’m all for a team in Montreal but it needs more than “wouldn’t it be neat”.

    • very true Radar, Montreal is a up and down sports fan base…

      The league after losing so much on the Expose, prob aren’t going to go for it again anytime soon.

      My guess is if you see another team it will be on the west coast or in NC

      NC has a huge population, and is a baseball state.

    • Jeff Blair constantly posits the sum of about 2 billion dollars- 1 billion for a stadium, 1 billion for an expansion fee.
      Does this sound remotely close?
      (Barring a relocation of course)

  13. TSN losing hockey is a real chance for them to try something new/different. Hopefully they improve and expand their NBA coverage, maybe get ahead of the curve for the next wave of Canadians entering the league? Maybe Bell will decide to get back at Rogers and become major players to purchase the Buffalo Bills when Mr. Wilson passes away?

    Baseball in Montreal would be great, but there enough obstacles to its return that I don’t want to get my hopes up.

    • The NFL doesn’t want corporations owning franchises. The Bills are valued at 800 mil.Current cost to break the stadium lease is 400 mil. Cost to build a NFL stadium in TO,1 Billion. Transfer fees are?.
      TSN buying the Bills isn’t happening.

      • I don’t know about the NFL’s position on corporate ownership, but I’d imagine they’d accept a large enough offer from a stable company like Bell, right? And who says the the Bills need to move? Bell or whoever can own the team and keep them in Buffalo, where there are a number of proposals for a new stadium already.

        • Wrong. RADAR is correct in that the NFL will not ever sell a franchise to a corporation. It is in their rules.

          That is why the Bon Jovi teaming with Rogers rumours are out there.

          • Thanks for the clarification, I wasn’t entirely sure about the NFL’s rules on that matter.

      • Radar – if you’ve been following this Bon Jovi/Bills story, the speculation is that MLSE would build and operate a new billion dollar NFL stadium, while a group made up of Bon Jovi, Larry Tanenbaum and Edward Rogers would buy the Bills. The whole thing is supposedly being overseen by MLSE president Tim Leiweke.

        So, MLSE wouldn’t buy the Bills necessarily, but they’re involved as much as they can be.

        So says Cathal Kelly, Bruce Arthur, and Stephen Brunt anyway.

        • I stopped following the story when Bon Jovi’s management denied it.
          Anythings possible but there’s a lot of hurdles to overcome.

  14. This works with Toronto and Montreal in the same division (like hockey has done in recent years by placing natural rivalries in the same division, and increasing the number of times they play against each other). Relocate the Rays to Montreal. Obvious rivalry between Montreal and Toronto. Montreal also benefits huge from having Boston and New York so close by (two teams with fan bases that have shown a willingness to travel… I think we’ve all seen the Jays games where we feel outnumbered by Yanks and Sox fans). Perhaps also swap Baltimore with the Phillies or the Tigers and success is virtually guaranteed.

  15. I think Oakland has a real shot of being moved in 2016. There is no appetite to build a new park there, SF refuses to let them move to San Jose, and as people have mentioned there is really nowhere else for them to go. In fact, many cities (non-crazy, non-Georian division) are finally showing some backbone and refusing to enteratin the types of public subsidies that fueled the turn of the century building boom. So Montreal could be on the radar by default.

    A huge obstacle to a move for me is thelack of available real estate downtown for a new park. The site of the proposed Labatt Park (which was ballin’) is now condos, and its hard to see other viable spots that are central that can accomodate the footprint. But man, I hope it happens…

    • With Atlanta moving to the ‘burbs, and the kind of new economics of baseball, I don’t know that downtown is necessary/ideal. I’m not familiar at all with Montreal’s geography, but a stadium west of the city that more easily drew in Eastern Ontario/Ottawa fans might make more sense.

      • Atlanta’s decision to move away from downtown into the suburbs was widely mocked and seen as backwards. There’s a deadspin article about it that I’m too lazy to link.

        • Given how little revenue is tied to attendance, I can’t see a huge reason to mock the team for it. They’re getting a subsidized new stadium (which is stupid for the municipality, not the team), and the article you reference, I think, makes way too much of the role of attendance and turns into a fluff piece about what the author wishes was, not what is.

      • There’s a massive difference between Braves fans in Atlanta and a base of support that would get behind the Expos. Downtown Atlanta can be sketchy. People work there but bolt for Decatur at night. Downtown Montreal is one of the most densely populated, most liveable urban centres in North America. Much like Toronto, people living there don’t want to have to travel to the equivalent of Markham to watch a ballgame.

    • Given the lack of downtown real estate, Ile Ste. Helene, next to the old Expo 67 site, strikes me as pretty much perfect. Gorgeous sightlines of the city and right next to the metro.

    • MLB would never let an original 16 brand like the A’s move to Montreal where the original namesake of the A’s would be lost to the Expos. On the other hand I think a west coast city like San Jose, Portland, or dare I say it Vancouver would be a more realistic landing spot for the team. Carolina is also another strong candidate.

      • I too would have a hard time picturing the A’s in Montreal, but your point falls flat given Philadelphia’s historic connection to the franchise.

  16. Of course this would never happen, considering TSN is now going to put their support 100% behind the NBA…

    … HAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA… haha … … … … :( fuck, let’s hope there’s at least something TSN would do instead of “Primetime Goals of the Night… from Last Night!”

  17. Great KITH sketch. Smiled as soon as I read that sentence… nice one.

  18. Fuck the trades AA, keep the prospects.
    Sign Garza, Navarro, Ellis. What is that about ? 20-25 million in annual salary?
    Gotta be doable.

    Fills the glaring holes.

    Dickey, Garza, Beuhrle, Morrow and one of – Hutch/Stroman/Nolin/Jenkins/Happ/McGuire/Sanchez/Redman/Rodgers
    One of those guys should be able to step up enough to hold down the 5th spot.

  19. I think the idea of Bell buying the Rays and moving them to Montreal isn’t totally batshit insane (if Sternberg would sell, and MLB would allow it). There have been rumblings from guys like Carfado and Morosi that MLB sees Montreal as a possible fit for the Rays.

    The thing is – Bell/TSN is going to have to do SOMETHING after this NHL deal has gone to Rogers. With limited hockey for the next 12 years, the network is going to have to reinvent itself and change its identity from basically ‘the hockey and CFL network’.

    If, as the Bon Jovi/Bills stories come about, MLSE gets involved peripherally in bringing the Bills here, maybe the NFL is where TSN starts directing more energy and attention. But, by all accounts, even if the Bills were to come here there’s a huge penalty for the team to move before 2020 (plus Wilson still has to pass away). Based on what Arthur/Brunt etc have said, that seems to be a long term play.

    Another possibility I guess is that Bell tries to buy out Rogers of MLSE OR lets Rogers buy them out of MLSE and pursues a 2nd GTA NHL franchise.

    Aside from those two options, I would think the idea of owning a Montreal MLB franchise would be something they’d throw out there. They’re going to need content, and hockey isn’t much of an option anymore.

  20. If they could find a way to move the Rays to Montreal and stay in the AL East how couldn’t the franchise succeed with about 35% of Montreal’s home games being against the Yankees, Red Sox and Jays. They would also have one of the largest television markets in the MLB, by broadcasting to all of Quebec, Maritimes, etc.

  21. In some strange, weird way…I actually like TSN more today, than I did a few days ago.

    I kind of feel sorry for them…NOT!

    Ahhhh, eat shit TSN. Eat shit.

  22. Greater Vancouver’s population is 2,313,328, but when you add Abbotsford Metro (170,191) and Bellingham Metro (200,434) you get 2,683,953. 2.7 million is enough for a baseball team, and considering how many MLB players come from BC (the majority of the Canadian ones) it seems a more logical choice. Montreal has more than a million more people (3,824,221), but BC likely has more natural interest and also has the Western Canadian market to draw from.

    For broadcast, BC is in the Jays region, not Mariners; not to say the Mariners wouldn’t raise a stink. Even in the glory days of 1994 the Expos only attracted 24,543 per game, 11th in the NL. They did finish 2nd in the NL in attendance in 1983, but Montréal has changed a lot in 30 years.

    I think one fundamental question for anybody who thinks MLB could return to Montréal is why, with the history, would MLB go back there when if it wants back into another market in Canada, it could go out to Vancouver where people have more money and where more people play and watch baseball already?

    • Vancouverites are too busy roller-blading and meditating to attend MLB games…

      • They sell out Canucks games at one of the highest prices in the NHL.

        • That’s because a) that’s hockey, and b) the Canucks have been good in recent years. If you’re going to bring up a hockey team as a reason why Vancouver is better than Montreal… um, the Habs?

      • considering that BC produces the countries best baseball teams and players i don’t see how they would be ‘too busy’ to go to games.

        Thats a baseless claim with absolutely nothing to support it.

        The major difference between BC and pretty much every other region in the country (including most of Ontario) is that kids play baseball. Its entrenched in the culture, kids in Quebec are not playing baseball.

        Granted, having baseball as a preferred sport doesn’t guarantee success of a major franchise, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

  23. meh, i’d say indianapolis, columbus, raleigh, san jose are all more viable franchise destinations than montreal. its just too far away from too much of america to be an mlb location.

    • San Jose is viable but Columbus, Raleigh and Indianapolis are just too small. MLB doesn’t want to add small market teams and all of those are under 2 million. I also doubt MLB wants another team I’m California either. San Antonio has grown a lot but where else? The two largest metro areas outside of California without a team: Vancouver and Montreal.

  24. [...] the Bell Canada-owned TSN, who is expected to be scrambling for content to make up for the loss. Andrew Stoeten at DJF angles that this could be a great opportunity for TSN and their sister French station RDS to [...]

  25. Cant see TSN doing this anyway.

    Raising TSNs success of growing popularity in sports entities by citing the WJHCs and the CFL mean nothing here.

    Buying an MLB team and building a new stadium are massive capital investments. TSNs investment in the CFL is nothing compared to this.

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