Renaud Brossard, director of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, trolled the Tampa Bay Rays this week with the pictured billboard outside the Trop. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Less than a week after Colin Wolf (Creative Loafing Tampa) outed the Tampa Bay Times for having a problem talking about its rich buddies (link), news broke of a Canadian man, Renaud Brossard — director of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation — who trolled Tampa Bay Rays owner Stu Sternberg with a billboard that reads “Montreal won’t pay for your new stadium.” The billboard is conveniently located just off on I-275 right outside the Trop and is a reference to Sternberg’s stated demand for — as Neil deMause (Field of Schemes) put it — two stadiums, one in Tampa Bay and one in Montreal, because something about complementary weather and culinary connections.

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.

— Renaud Brossard, to reporters

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation coughed up just $1,300 to run the digital ad for only one week, yet because of it, Brossard flew down to St. Petersburg to get in a quick photo op.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is an anti-tax, anti-spending, pro-free trade group akin to Americans for Prosperity, the local Koch Brothers subsidized anti-tax group that stands opposed to the construction of a publicly funded stadium in Tampa. Americans for Prosperity took aim at the team for its leverage gambit in Ybor City in 2018 (link).

For what it’s worth, this blog stands adamantly opposed to the bulk of the policies the Koch Brothers advocate for. From time to time, though, the stars align.

According to the article by Field of Schemes, Brossard cited a March poll finding that 60% of Quebecois (and 59% of Montrealers) don’t want to spend government money on a new baseball stadium; in the same poll, only 42% of people in Quebec even want the Montreal Expos to return, which is not a terrific showing.

deMause put things in perspective, saying:

The fact that a guy running an anti-tax group found $1,300 in his budget (plus whatever it cost for plane tickets) to run a billboard ad for a week isn’t really news so much as a media stunt, but there is a point here: Everyone in Florida is acting as if Montreal is a legitimate rival to Tampa Bay for Sternberg’s affections, or at least half his affections, but attempts to get a stadium funded there have an even longer, sadder history than they do in Tampa and St. Pete. Sternberg still appears to be trying to create a bidding war between two metropolitan areas that haven’t shown much interest in bidding, while also declaring that both cities will end up half-winners, which is not how bidding wars work at all. It’s tempting to think that there’s some evil master plan behind the Tampontreal Ex-Rays gambit, but really, billionaires are just as capable of doing stuff without fully thinking it through as the rest of us humans, so it’s equally possible that he’s just flailing around because he doesn’t have any better ideas — in which case, getting trolled by a 20-something Canadian with an electronic sign may end up being the whole plan’s most fitting epitaph of all.

— Neil deMause

Well stated, Neil.

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