Looking at why Major League Baseball needs to return to the home of the Expos
For a third straight year, the Toronto Blue Jays wrapped up Spring Training by playing two exhibition games against the Boston Red Sox at the Olympic stadium.
Around 106,000 fans attended the April 1 and 2 games, which begs the question: is it time for Montreal to get back their beloved Major League Baseball franchise?
Montreal has the 13th largest population in North America but is the only city with over 4 million people that does not have a baseball team. The other 12 cities all have baseball teams, including New York and Los Angeles which have two teams.
Montreal is one of the greatest cities in the world due to its culture and international recognition. When Montreal hosted Expo 67, about 55 million people attended the event. Two years later, the event led to the Montreal Expos becoming Canada’s first Major League Baseball team.
Montreal has a unique culture within North America because of the bilingual population, which is great for tourism and could also be great for baseball. If the good sport did return to Montreal, I think both francophones and anglophones would accept the team and would wear the team’s gear. If you walk in Downtown Montreal today, it is very hard to miss someone wearing an Expos hat or t-shirt.
There is a strong desire from people wanting to relive the good old days of watching baseball games at Jarry Park and the Olympic Stadium. The desire for a return to baseball started in 2012 when former Expos catcher Gary Carter passed away. Carter was a hero for many in the ‘80s because he was always helping out in the community.
I believe that the return of a baseball team will lead to more profit for the city, especially in the summertime. The other thing the city has going for it is the fact that a lot of tourists go to the summer festivals like Just for Laughs, the Grand Prix and the Jazz Festival. The city of Montreal had 9.6 million tourists and generated $2.9 billion in revenue last year according to the CBC. Just imagine taking a day off from one of these festivals and sitting down to watch a baseball game on a hot sunny day.
A new baseball team will likely have to be placed in the American East division because it would create a strong rivalry with the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
I personally have very fond memories of going to the Olympic Stadium in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. My goal was always to be there early to see batting practise so that I could get autographs from the players. The other memory I have is after the games sometimes, you were able to run around the bases. These were the fun times of attending Expos games.
I hope someday, I will be able to take my kids to see a baseball game in Montreal just like my parents did with me.