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'Dear Rays, Montreal won't pay for your stadium': Group puts up billboard near Tropicana Field

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Posted at 3:48 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 17:15:05-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Canadian organization is hoping to grab the attention of Rays Baseball leaders. On Monday, they unveiled a new eye-catching message flashing above Tropicana Field.

On a billboard right off I-275 and just West of Tropicana Field, a message flashes: “Dear Rays, Montreal won’t pay for your new stadium. Sincerely, taxpayers.”

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Renaud Brossard of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation flew in from Montreal to make sure the billboard is put on full display. He hopes it will grab the attention of Rays executives.

“If the rays want to come and play in Montreal, they’re more than welcome to do it. We’ll give them a warm Canadian welcome, but we’re not going to let them use our wallets as an open bar,” Brossard elaborated.

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Brossard says his nonprofit and nonpartisan organization is open to the split season concept shared between Tampa Bay and Montreal, but adds asking taxpayers to fund a part-time stadium is “ludicrous.”

“The City of Montreal has a couple hundred million dollars in budget shortfall this year so there’s no money available, but even if there was, there are bigger priorities than building a new ballpark,” he explained.

Brossard would rather see Canadian executives who are hoping to lure the team to Montreal, fork over the cash.

According to Brossard, a group led by wealthy businessman Stephen Bronfman has registered to lobby the government of Quebec in order to get a subsidy for the project, which includes the construction of a new stadium in downtown Montreal.

“If they need a stadium, these guys have the money to do it,” Brossard elaborated.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is a nonprofit organization. They don’t represent government members in Quebec.

ABC Action News reached out to the Rays and is waiting to hear back.

Mathieu St-Armand, a spokesperson in Quebec for the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, wrote in an email to ABC Action News, “The government is in discussions with some partners, but it is too early to comment on any form of support. Any financial implication from the Quebec government would be conditional on the revenues generated exceeding the investments."

As for the billboard, it will stay up for the next week near the corner of 18th St S and 3rd Avenue S in St. Petersburg.

“It’s enough to send the message,” Brossard added.

The Rays are locked into playing at Tropicana Field until their contract is up in 2027. As of now, team executives are still focused on a split season concept.