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Former Expo Warren Cromartie hopes investors jump on idea for team in Montreal

12/12/2013 06:12 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Former Montreal Expo Warren Cromartie is just waiting for the right investors — or ''power hitters'' as he puts it — to step up to the plate in the city and hit one out of the park.

''There are two things in baseball that never change: history and numbers,'' said Cromartie, who is spearheading a drive for Montreal to get a Major League Baseball team.

''Montreal, we have the history for baseball in this town. We have the numbers now. The numbers don't lie. It's an amazing day.''

The Expos left after the 2004 season to become the Washington Nationals amid dwindling attendance at the concrete and much-maligned Olympic Stadium in the city's east end.

The reason for Cromartie's unbridled enthusiasm at a news conference Thursday was an Ernst & Young feasibility study that suggests baseball could thrive in Montreal if the city had a new stadium.

The study was commissioned by Cromartie's group — the Montreal Baseball Project — and the Montreal Board of Trade.

Ernst & Young cited a strong demand for season tickets, the team's salary cap but especially revenue-sharing and increased TV rights as the reasons it reached its conclusion.

The report said the project would cost just over $1 billion — $500 million for the facility and $525 million for the franchise.

Ernst & Young based the $525-million figure on the average price of the 10 MLB teams that, according to Forbes, have the least economic value.

The firm's scenario includes a government contribution of about $335 million.

Cromartie and the board of trade are looking for someone who can deliver money — and lots of it.

''My next step is to find a champion,'' he said. ''A champion with passion, a champion with integrity, a champion with assets, because we can't get done without it.

''We're looking for a big player, a cleanup hitter, somebody who wants to be part of history, be a hero.

''We got a ball game going here. We got a game going. We got a runner on first base ... I need a power hitter, power hitters to make it happen.''

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