The MLB is set to return to the Olympic Stadium on March 28 and 29
September 29, 2004: The Montreal Expos host the Florida Marlins at the Olympic Stadium in front of 31,395 fans in what would be their last game in front of the Montreal faithful. That very same day, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced it would be relocating the Expos franchise to Washington, D.C at the end of that season. With an NHL lockout on the rise, it would prove to be a tough time for Montreal sports fans. For the first six years that the Expos were no more, baseball seemed to be slowly disappearing in Montreal.
But things have turned around for the better for Montreal baseball. Minor things such as the induction of former Expo Andre Dawson into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the death of Gary Carter, and the creation of the Montreal Baseball Project are only some of the things that have given Montreal baseball fans a renewed sense of hope.
“Just the excitement that’s already risen is positive reinforcement to the thought of having baseball come back to Montreal,” said Stingers’ baseball player, Matthew Adams-Whitaker. “Seeing how the media is all over it, and there are already speculations about getting a team back here, I think our chances are increasing!”
Last summer, Montrealers headed to Toronto in July to watch a Blue Jays game to show major league baseball that Montrealers are a passionate fan base. Over 1,000 Expos fans appeared in left field on that sunny Saturday afternoon. But the biggest step forward yet is that the Toronto Blue Jays will host the New York Mets in a two-game exhibition series at the Olympic Stadium on March 28 and 29 of this year.
“It’ll definitely help gain attention, especially if the fans fill up the Olympic Stadium,” said Concordia student Adrien Travers. “But at the end of the day it’s [going to] depend on whether the dollars fit and if the MLB is open to the idea or not.”
“The Jays-Mets series will reveal how committed Montreal is to baseball,” said Concordia student Giordano Cescutti. “I believe the fans took the team for granted prior to them leaving. If they happen to return, fans will never let them leave.”
Returning franchises are nothing new to the MLB. We’ve seen it become a success in cities such as Seattle and Washington.
However not all Concordians share the same level of excitement: “It’s a good start but a lot more research and development would need to be done,” Daniele Iannarone said. “I don’t think it can be used as a measuring stick to determine whether baseball belongs here or not.”
It’s known around Montreal’s baseball community that there is one common denominator that needs to be established if this city is ever going to get a new franchise.
“With a new stadium and with better location we have a recipe for success,” said Stingers’ pitcher, Alex Kechayan.
“If we can fill up the Big O watching two random teams, then we can surely fill a brand new stadium watching our Expos,” said Justin Ferrara, also a Concordia student.
Warren Cromartie, the founder of Montreal Baseball Project and former Montreal Expos outfielder has already tweeted that over 100,000 tickets have been sold. However it is not all sold out just yet. If you want to take part in bringing baseball back Montreal, get your tickets now. Small quantities of tickets are still available at evenko.ca.