- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A group in Montreal, Quebec, outlined its plan to attract an NBA expansion team Wednesday.

Montreal Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Michel Leblanc is on board with the plan, as well as Michael Fortier, the country’s former minister of international trade. The group’s key investor, Stéphan Crétier, is the founder, president and CEO of GardaWorld, a Canadian private security firm; he said he will contribute up to 10 percent of the value of a new franchise.

The NBA currently has 30 franchises. It last expanded in 2004 when it added the Charlotte Bobcats (later renamed the Hornets to match the previous franchise that played in Charlotte).

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Montreal group the league currently has no plans to expand, but it’s not going to stop the city from trying.

“The NBA is not considering adding a team to the 30 already in place in the short term. Our goal is instead to be ready the day that opportunity comes along,” Fortier said, according to a press release.

The Toronto Raptors are the league’s only Canadian team for now. They will play an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Nets in Montreal Wednesday, which led to the timing of the Chamber of Commerce’s announcement.

The league used to have a second Canadian franchise not long ago — the Vancouver Grizzlies, who were added in 1995 but moved to Memphis in 2001.

For now, Montreal’s only team in the major four North American sports leagues are the NHL’s Canadiens. In Major League Baseball, the Montreal Expos played in the city from 1969 to 2004 before changing ownership, moving and becoming the Washington Nationals.

There has been talk of bringing an NBA franchise to Montreal before, but some have criticized the idea in part due to lack of fan interest in the area. Crétier disagrees.

“A sports project of this magnitude can only make Montreal more vibrant,” Crétier said. “Sports are extremely popular with Quebecers, and basketball is no exception. I am committed to enhancing Montreal’s reputation, and I know the city will enthusiastically welcome another professional sport with an NBA team.”

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