Should MLB bring Back the Expos?
If names like Carter, Parrish, Staub, Walker, Rogers, Martinez, Dawson, Cromartie, Alou and Raines bring back memories of peanuts and cracker jacks, you are probably in favour of MLB (Major League Baseball) bringing Montreal ‘back to the ballgame’, after being taken ‘out of the ballgame’ close to 13 years ago. On September 29, 2004, after 36 years of being part of Major League Baseball, the Montreal Expos played their last game at home – but the sound of a bat cracking a ball out of the park has never stopped resonating in many of our hearts.
More recently, and especially since the Toronto Blue Jays started playing pre-season exhibition games at the Olympic Stadium, the call for the return of baseball to the city has grown louder. And this season as the Blue Jays play against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Montreal April 1st, the cry seems to be reaching the top of the Big O roof.
Leading up to Saturday’s game, reports of a group of investors including Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Garber, who want to bring professional baseball back to Montreal raised the city’s hopes to the rafters. They said all of the conditions established by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred have been met including government support, solid financing and a site with plans for a stadium – and the only thing they are waiting for ‘is a call from the MLB Commissioner’.
Mayor Denis Coderre, a staunch supporter and advocate of bringing baseball back to the city, wrote in tweet last Wednesday ‘that there is no deal so far, and that the matter is going step by step, slowly but surely, we are respecting the wishes on the MLB.’
In the fall of 2015 Stephen Bronfman and the Mayor sent a letter to Commissioner Manfred and the MLB’s 30 teams, declaring Montreal’s interest in bringing a team back. Last year the
Commissioner said they would like to expand the league from 30 to 32 teams and then in December a new collective agreement with the Association of Players was ratified.
Gloves are crossed and hopes are higher than ever, but that hope could come crashing down. For one, there are other cities vying for the spots – but all have to meet the same requirements. And second, but no less important, is the location and cost of a new stadium. A new stadium could cost hundreds of millions of dollars and with the cost of a team, the amount could rise to over $1 billion.
In the meantime Tim Raines, the legendary former left-fielder for the Montreal Expo’s, who is officially being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next July and is in town this weekend for the games at the Olympic stadium, received the ‘Key to Montreal’ Friday morning, bestowed upon him by Mayor Denis Coderre – who couldn’t help but to use the opportunity to declare ‘the city is closer than ever to welcoming back a Major League club.’
With all the other projects and infrastructure work having taken over our city – and the magnitude of costs already involved… do you think we should bring baseball back to Montreal?