Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

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Preseason baseball is returning to La Belle Province in 2018.

For a fifth straight year the Toronto Blue Jays will play their final two spring training games in Montreal at Olympic Stadium next March 26 and 27. Their opponents will be the St. Louis Cardinals, who will be making their first visit to Montreal in over a decade.

“We always look forward to playing in front of our fans in Montreal,” Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. “The atmosphere at Olympic Stadium over the last few years has been truly special, and is a reminder of the passion for baseball that exists in Quebec, and how far-reaching the Blue Jays’ fan base truly extends.”

Unlike in previous years, the 2018 Montreal games will be held on a Monday and Tuesday due to MLB season openers scheduled for Thursday, March 29. The past four series have all been played on a Friday and Saturday.

The Blue Jays first hosted exhibition games at Olympic Stadium – once home to the Montreal Expos for 27 seasons before they moved to Washington – before the 2014 season. Since then the games have turned into a staple on the preseason baseball calendar, while giving Montreal a chance to reestablish itself as a viable major-league market. Over 95,000 fans attended this year’s games between the Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals last played at Olympic Stadium on May 9, 2004, when they defeated the Expos 5-2.

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A return to Montreal, a Mexico debut, or a new team in the Carolinas are all potential future scenarios for Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday.

Speaking prior to the Home Run Derby in Miami, Manfred remained adamant the the league’s current priority is finding new stadiums for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, but acknowledged he believes MLB could be sustainable in three other cities.

“I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said, according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. “Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”

MLB hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the league added Tampa Bay and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t relocated since the Expos left Montreal for Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

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Rob Manfred isn’t holding his breath about Major League Baseball in Montreal, but he isn’t saying no.

Following a report Wednesday that a group of investors had satisfied the league’s conditions to bring a team back to the city, Manfred revealed Thursday the idea of a resurgence in Montreal has weighed on his mind.

“We’ve thought about Montreal a lot. We’ve had conversations with potential owners. The mayor of Montreal, I think, could be fairly characterized as a rabid baseball fan,” Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” show. “I’m not closed to the idea that we could return to Montreal – again, in the event that we get to relocation or expansion. I’m certainly open to that idea.

“But obviously the issues, largely facility issues, that led to the Expos leaving would have to be addressed before we’d be comfortable returning.”

The Expos played in Montreal for 35 years before uprooting in 2004 to Washington D.C. where they became the Nationals. As Manfred alludes, however, the franchise’s final seasons were plagued by mismanagement as the club failed to find funding for a new ballpark, leading to the league taking over the franchise outright in 2002 and then playing some home games in Puerto Rico in 2003.

Baseball fans in Montreal will get another taste of big-league action this weekend, as the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates will visit the city to begin a two-game series Friday at Olympic Stadium.

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Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is not only a fan of keeping the game fun, but he’d also like to see it make strides in expansion.

Manfred told CSN Chicago on Thursday he’d “love to see” MLB expand after a new labor deal is finalized, and stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland are resolved, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

Manfred named Montreal and Mexico City as the front-runners for possible expansion sites, with the latter holding considerable interest to the league. “Mexico City, in particular, would be new ground for us,” he said.

Montreal sold out two exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox prior to the 2016 campaign, showing that passion for the sport remains high in the Canadian city.

Manfred thinks expanding the league to 32 teams is inevitable.

“I have said publicly that I think baseball’s a growth sport, a growth business, that sooner or later growth businesses expand,” Manfred told The Associated Press on April 21. “If we were to expand, I do think a city that makes sense geographically – meaning in terms of realistic travel distances and is outside of the 48 contiguous states – would be positive choice for us in terms of growing the game.”

The Expos were members of the National League from 1969-2004 before the franchise moved to Washington and took on the Nationals moniker.

After a 12-year hiatus, Mexico City hosted two spring games between the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres in January.

Portland has also been named as a potential expansion destination by Manfred in the past.

Major League Baseball is set to temporarily return to Montreal in 2016.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox will play a pair of exhibition games on April 1 and 2 at Olympic Stadium, according to multiple reports.

These games would mark the third consecutive year that the Blue Jays host spring training games in Montreal. A two-game series against the New York Mets drew 96,350 people in 2014, while 96,545 showed up to watch the Blue Jays split two games with the Cincinnati Reds this past April.

Olympic Stadium is the former home of the Montreal Expos, who moved to Washington following the 2004 season.

Speaking with reporters ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, commissioner Rob Manfred flirted with the possibility that Major League Baseball could one day feature more than 30 teams.

“Maybe one of the reasons I got this job is, I’m bullish on this game,” Manfred said. “I think we are a growth business, broadly defined. And over an extended period of time, growth businesses look to get bigger. So yeah, I’m open to the idea that there will be a point in time where expansion may be possible.”

The league hasn’t expanded since the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays were inaugurated in 1998, but Manfred spouted off a number of cities that could be viable destinations for expansion.

Manfred added that the league will “examine their viability” to determine if those cities would be well-suited for relocation of a current franchise, like Tampa Bay or the Oakland Athletics, plagued by lousy attendance and/or stadium woes.

Though Montreal, home of baseball’s first Canadian franchise, is often cited as a potential destination when expansion is broached, Manfred stressed the city’s need for a new stadium before that possibility can be seriously considered.

“The mayor is an enthusiastic supporter of bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said. “I happen to believe that Montreal has a great baseball history, which is a nice thing. And the market wildly supported two exhibition games in each of the last two years. Having said all that, it’s a long ways from two exhibition games to 81 home games in a facility that is consistent with major league standards.”

It appears the owners of the Montreal Canadiens are at least feeling out the NBA in regards to a potential basketball tenant one day joining the hockey club in the city’s Bell Centre.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Canadiens vice president Kevin Gilmore in New York in January, according to Rejean Tremblay of Le Journal de Montreal (article in French). Silver reportedly told them that no team is currently available.

Beyond Seattle and perhaps even Las Vegas, there are not a ton of sizable U.S. markets left in search of an NBA franchise. Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city and the ninth-largest in North America.

The Grizzlies moved from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001 due in part to a lack of corporate support, leaving Canada with only one NBA team, the Toronto Raptors.