In the eyes of Stephen Bronfman and his associates, relaunching baseball in Montreal would be a great project for people. Not just for those – and I’m one of them – who love baseball.
As they say, it would also be great for the economy! They are selling a myth that few economists take seriously: that of famous economic ramifications, the mathematical version of doubling the loaves.
I hope the Caquista government is skeptical.
At the moment, the door does not close, and this defends itself. After all, the project has not yet been officially presented. Quebec is waiting to read it before commenting on it. But its standards leave room for reflection.
The Kakuen agree to inject public funds into the adventure on the condition that the taxpayers benefit from it. That is, provided that the aid is less than the economic benefits. The problem is that it is difficult to assess the effect. And they often overestimate them. The devil hides in commas and fractures.
Contrary to what its promoters claim, it is not clear that the Montreal Grand Prix is a windfall for the tax authorities. According to my colleague Vincent Prusso-Beaulieu, this event would have cost our governments 22.4 million from 2015 to 2019.
Professional sports are no better. An economist from George Mason University concluded in 2015 that these teams did not bring significant economic benefits. His studies cast a wide net: he looked at the years 1969 to 2011.
Legault’s government has not yet determined its methodology or who will do the calculations. However, he has advanced his general criteria. It will calculate ancillary benefits such as the tax inflows generated from the tax on players’ salaries as well as the taxes paid by tourists who come to watch a baseball game. Now, how do you know if a tourist came to play baseball, and whether they would choose another destination if the Expos weren’t playing? How can we anticipate the taxes our players will pay with us?
As a rule, professional athletes who play on a professional team in Quebec pay tax there on a portion of their salaries earned here. But it will not be easy to calculate it accurately to determine what would be a “profitable” subsidy.
And even if it does, one question remains: Will the team come? Because the owners of the ring and the players’ association have to agree to the deal. And it’s not because the team is going back to Montreal that it’s going to stay there…
We must go back a few kilometers. Back to the basic question that concerns the city of Montreal, not the Quebec government: How is the Bell Basin developed? What is the best project for residents? Is the baseball field used a few weeks a year?
It’s up to Mayor Blunt to answer.
I don’t blame him for his silence. I repeat: the project has not yet been submitted. Naturally, you should read it before commenting on it. But we can already remember some facts. The city lacks affordable housing and green spaces. Experiencing a traffic jam. Peel Basin is a great ground for creating new residential and commercial projects.
Moreover, several have already been developed. The most recent one came from Devimco. with housing and center green technologies. Mr. Bronfman and his team of investors have teamed up with Devimco to incorporate part of this project into their plan. But it can be reborn in its initial version. or replace it with another.
NSI Plante was already firm on the principle: that no financial aid would be allocated to promoters. Neither direct nor indirect.
Once the project is submitted, it is very likely that it will be considered by the Office of Public Consulting in Montreal. It is crucial to scrutinize the terms of the subsidy or “cancellable” loan offered by Quebec to the promoters.
However, before that we will have to go back to basics and ask ourselves whether a part-time stadium for a virtual professional team in joint custody is the best project for the future of Montreal.
Mr. Bronfman is a financial expert. But when it comes to urban planning and overall development, he’s no expert, far from it.
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