Montreal Expos Gain Momentum For MLB Return
Montreal Expos A Near Lock To Return To The MLB
Turns out Youppi! might get another shot at the majors soon.
As the fortunes of the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics plummet, support has grown for the Big Show to return to La Belle Province. If the Rays or the A’s don’t find a new stadium, Montreal’s ready to swoop in and reclaim a spot in the MLB.
Toronto Helped Destroy Canada’s First MLB Franchise
Montreal has been Canada’s cultural trendsetter for decades, including the realm of pro sports. The city earned the first major pro franchise outside of the realm of hockey in 1969, naming their baseball team after the wildly successful Expo 67 World Fair, which was a celebration of Canada’s centennial anniversary. Toronto would follow suit, establishing the Blue Jays in 1977.
The Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies became the next major Canadian pro franchises outside of the NHL, directly inspired by the Expos and Jays.
The Expos never really had a chance to shine. Their best season was cut short by the 1994 MLB strike, which represented the first time a major pro league lost an entire postseason. Struggling to produce profits, management shipped many of their best players away from Montreal to reduce operating costs. This was the last straw for the franchise, which declined horribly in terms of attendance and baseball quality as the turn of the century passed.
Olympic Stadium, likely built with Montreal mafia concrete, symbolized the fall of Expos, crumbling piece by piece until the outdated structure became an eyesore. Paul Godfrey, GM of the Blue Jays at the time, joined the vote to move the Expos to Washington. He acknowledged the Expos role in establishing the sport in Canada while condemning the franchise to the U.S., stating, “That wasn't an emotional or a baseball vote. It was a business decision.” To this day, Expos fans decry Godfrey and the Jays for failing to stand by a Canadian franchise.
Momentum Gathers For Montreal Expos Reboot
Sometimes, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Montreal baseball fans experienced this first hand, refusing to let the idea of the Expos die.
Their iconic logo remains popular for fans of great throwback gear and Montreal residents alike. Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of fans adorned in Expos clothing packed the ‘O’ to watch exhibition Blue Jays games, showing a consistent love for baseball and the ‘Spos.
As a city, Oakland has been struggling to retain its pro sports franchises, and the Athletics could be next to vacate the Bay Area. Tampa Bay needs to get away from Tropicana Field, and if either franchise can’t build a new stadium, Montreal will step in.
Stephen Bronfman and Mitch Gerber lead a group of investors who put in the effort to meet the conditions necessary for baseball to return to Quebec. Mayor Denis Coderre signed a letter along with Bronfman, which was distributed to the 30 teams and commissioner Rob Manfred, publicly stating a commitment to rejoin the MLB. This covers the potential for relocation, as well as an expansion scenario whenever the league decides to add a pair of franchises.
At their peak in the 1980s, the Expos were admired for their player development system and nose for talent, which brought them stars like Gary Carter, Steve Rogers, Andre Dawson, Larry Walker, Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez and Dennis Martinez.
Managerial incompetence created the downfall around the end of the century, forcing the MLB to take control of operations. Given another chance, the Montreal Expos will remember what it’s like to lose an MLB team, and refuse to take their franchise for granted.
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