MONTREAL—A group of Quebec businesspeople led by former federal cabinet minister and senator Michael Fortier is continuing its full-court press to bring a National Basketball Association franchise to Montreal — even though the league has no current plans for expansion.
Fortier said Wednesday he has spoken to NBA commissioner Adam Silver about Montreal’s basketball dream.
“Although the NBA and its commissioner have made it clear to us that they currently have no plans to expand the league, we have taken the decision to prepare for when expansion does take place, because we believe it will take place,” Fortier told a news conference.
The group has been meeting with potential Canadian and foreign investors to arrange financing. It announced Wednesday that Stephan Cretier, the CEO of the security firm GardaWorld, has agreed to contribute up to 10 per cent of the value of the new team.
Fortier said the group “has been casting a very wide net and has had conversations with people all over the globe.” But so far Cretier’s commitment is the only firm one.
As it tries to attract investors for an NBA franchise, the group also has to deal with an effort to bring back baseball’s Montreal Expos.
Kevin Gilmore, who runs a sports consulting firm, said the group feels there’s room for both a new NBA franchise and a return of the Expos.
“I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive,” he said. “I think this marketplace can more than support ... several teams.”
Fortier estimated the NBA franchise would cost between $1.5 billion (U.S.) and $2 billion, but no public funding would be required.