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:

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!

Comments (21)

  1. Two translated comments on the RDS article about the same story:

    “Fool me once shame on you, fool me once shame on me. I wouldn’t go even if they gave me tickets.”

    “If it’s against the Nationals OK… otherwise no interest, Toronto is Toronto, whether it’s baseball, soccer or hockey, they’re the enemy team”

    Uh… hope that’s not representative of the general sentiment in Montreal. Although a half-empty O sure would be nostalgic!

    • It’s not. If you think two comments are actually representative of a population, then you should probably look at the up-votes versus the down-votes for those two comments, as well as the several positive comments.

      For the record, the Raptors have sold out whenever they’ve played an exhibition game in Montreal. A Jays game would do well, too.

  2. This is such a joke! Montreal doesnt deserve Blue Jays exhibition games in that dump of a stadium. Bring them out to the brand new BC Place here in Vancouver where we saw what tens of thousands of BC baseball fans do to support the jays in driving to Seattle. Vancouver is the 2nd best baseball market in Canada without question.

    • Uh… it’s not like this precludes the possibility of exhibition games ever going to Vancouver.

  3. In the early 90′s, the Jays played some exhibition games in Vancouver at BC Place (so one would suspect they could do it again). I remember going and seeing Dave Parker (I was a kid, so the only guy I remember is the guy I saw come around to sign stuff) so it must have been 1991. I believe they did it the year before as well.

    • The Mariners played exhibition games in Vancouver too. That’s where Edgar Martinez tore his leg in 47 places when he hit a seam on that awful turf and had to spend the rest of his career as a DH.

  4. For Montrealers (and you only have to check the comment section of the French CBC article), getting an off-season game could be seen as a token or even an insult when they had the real deal before. I’m afraid the MLB will use the low turnout for such an event to show how Montreal is not ready to get a ball team again. Almost like the NFL saying Toronto can’t support a team since we don’t turn out in droves for a Bills game. It’s not our team, so we’re not invested in it. The Jays in Montreal may have the same kind of effect: not our team, we don’t really care.

  5. Tonnes of Jays hats everywhere you look in Montreal. Lots of Expos, too, to be fair. This event would do great.

  6. Attempt at translation, though Google was pretty spot on:

    On Tuesday, Evenko will announce a special MLB event at Olympic Stadium.

    The promoter called a press conference at 1pm to address the media.

    Everything suggests that it will be the Toronto Blue Jays making the stadium vibrate once again with the sounds of baseball bats.

    In fact, at the end of April, various sources were buzzing about negotiations between the Toronto team and RIO. Talks suggested playing an exhibition game in the Expos’ former home.

    Justine Lord-Dufour, Communications Advisor at Olympic Park, has indicated, however, that the stadium will require some investment before it’s in a state to host a baseball game.

  7. As a baseball-starved Montrealer Jays fan, I welcome any and all baseball-related activities to the city of Montreal.

  8. Having lived in Montreal during the dying days of the Expos, I’m going to agree with the anti-Toronto sentiment. Montrealers may be starved for pro ball again but I don’t think that means you have a city full of Blue Jays converts at the ready.

    • Not knowledgeable on this topic, so bear with me, but what’s with the beef between Montreal and Toronto in regards to baseball?

      • I think Montrealers are anti Toronto just because of the city rivalry, not really anything to do with baseball.

        Also, Toronto did vote to contract the Expos in the early 2000s, right? I know some Expos fans held on to that.

      • All those World Series games against each other. Created a real rivalry.

  9. That would be cool.

    Anything that attempts to expand the Jays reach and fanbase is probably a good thing. They’re the only team in a country of 30 million…might as well try to take advantage.

  10. Yeah, the reception out in western Canada would likely be much warmer. I was among the invading horde of Canadians who saw the Jays in Seattle this year.

    That experience was 10 times as fun as any of the 50-odd games I’ve taken in at the Dome in Toronto back when I lived out there. Everyone was invested in the experience, having traveled all that way and cheered as if it were the World Series and not a team 15-games under .500 playing out the string. I saw Gibbons and JPA on the street, getting in their cab to go to Safeco, and they had just gotten done signing merch for fans they ran into on the street. It’s possible I excitedly pointed at said cab and yelled something to the effect of ‘WHOOOO’ as they drove off, will neither confirm nor deny.

    We even booed King Felix in his own house, and I think it threw him off since he was far suckier than usual. Honestly this was potentially the most fun I’ve ever had going to a sports event in my life. I’m so going again next year.

    I feel confident saying there is no way Montrealers would match that, they probably would just resent the idea of the Jays in their house like that article says.

    • And I’m not trying to be anti-Montreal, I hope my post doesn’t come off that way. I love that city too.

      I just think the word ‘Toronto’ on the jersey would stoke the regional rivalry like that article suggests.

  11. Even if the majority of Montrealers aren’t Blue Jays fans, surely they realize that a rowdy packed house would be the first step in them ever getting a team again. Bring in some Expos legends, and I guarantee many naysayers would pick up a ticket anyway.

    • I fully expect they will do everything they can to revive nostalgia for Les Expos. It would be a wasted opportunity otherwise.

  12. Baseball, beer, smoked meat and strippers? Sign me up.

  13. Let’s not forget that the Jays got a huge turnout during their stop in Montreal on the Winter Tour a couple of years ago. I guess they figure that there’s enough of a fanbase there, enough Expos fans who miss MTL baseball, plus others who will make the trip for the novelty of it.

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