Love you too, Big O!
Don’t get too excited, Montrealers, because you don’t have a stadium yet, so big league baseball isn’t about to return to your great city full-time, but here’s something slightly interesting from Radio Canada– translated (badly) by Google:
Evenko must make the announcement on Tuesday of a “special event at the Olympic Stadium Major League Baseball.”
The developer has in fact invited the media to 13 pm for a press conference on the subject.
All indications are that this will be the Toronto Blue Jays who will once again rock the stage to the sound of baseball bats.
In fact, various sources echoed in late April, negotiations between the Toronto team and the Olympic Installations Board (RIO). The talks were aimed at presenting an exhibition game in the former home of the Montreal Expos.
Justine Lord-Dufour, Communications Advisor at Olympic Park, however, confided to the Globe and Mail that investment was needed to restore the stadium to accommodate a satisfactory baseball game state.
Evenko is a concert promoter owned by the Montreal Canadiens, primarily booking the Bell Centre, but extending– according to the Montreal Gazette– to other venues in the city as well. So, if they’re behind it, the idea of a major event makes sense. The fact that the Jays are always trying to broaden their national reach certainly ties into it as well.
And there are rumours out there, it has been suggested to me, that indeed a pre-season exhibition game or two against the Mets might be what this is all about. Which is… interesting.
It’s always nice to have an excuse for a Montreal excursion, and I understand the Jays desire to capture more fans in a market that, as we can see in the photo above, is maybe not as favourable as, say, Vancouver– whose outstanding Jays fans flock to Seattle year after year, and who probably deserve a Jays exhibition game more than anyone– but the idea of the club spending money to fix up the Big O just as they’re putting the finishing touches on a lease agreement in their own building that will keep the Argos in, and natural grass out, for as long as five years kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
I’m probably just being a whiner on that front, though. Grass is coming, just maybe not as quickly as we all would like.
Anyway, regarding Montreal, back in April, a Canadian Press piece suggested that David Heurtel, president of the city’s Olympic Installations Board, was saying that “the project is quite advanced.”
He said that the organization is currently busy studying the acquisition of equipment necessary for the conduct of a professional baseball game at the Olympic Stadium costs.
Mr. Heurtel spoke of “remnants” of the time Expos, noting that it would probably be the acquisition of a new surface. He added that the RIO also working on a profitable business model, a “winning business model.”
At the time, an Evenko spokesman disagreed:
He added that several aspects remain to be resolved, including the question of the surface, but above the stadium roof, which prevents the production of any event if the weather forecasts speak of snowfall.
The roof of the Olympic Stadium, however, did not prevent the impact of the MLS, to play eight games there in the past two years.
I don’t know what the hell they’d be gathering the press together tomorrow for if it wasn’t something to do with what we exactly think this is, but I guess we’ll see! As long as Vancouver– provided they can make the stadium work– gets their chance too, what’s not to like?
Aaaaand now Shi Davidi has confirmed it:
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 9, 2013
It should be an interesting experiment, both for the Jays and for the baseball fans of Montreal, as the games will surely be looked at as a test of the Jays’ marketing pull, and a test of the viability of big league baseball in Montreal, nine years after the Expos left the city to become the Washington Nationals. As has been astutely pointed out in the comments, it’s not exactly an ideal test of either, as there is no real connection between the team and the city. But I guess if the Jays ever were to forge one, this would be the ideal first step, eh? I know I’m looking forward to taking the road trip, but getting me out to Stade Olympique isn’t really the point, is it?
Crotch grab in the direction of @big_b_sr for the tip!