MontrealThe ink on the new baseballs with Rob Manfred’s signature are still wet, but Major League Baseball’s new commissioner has wasted little time letting people know what his vision is for the sport.

Manfred first raised some eyebrows among Rays fans when he said he was open to eliminating defensive shifts as a way to increase scoring. Now, in an interview with the New York Times, Manfred says putting a team back in Montreal is “possible.”

“Look, I think Montreal helped itself as a candidate for Major League Baseball with the Toronto games that they had up there last year,” Manfred told the Times. “It’s hard to miss how many people showed up for those exhibition games. It was a strong showing. Montreal’s a great city. I think with the right set of circumstances and the right facility, it’s possible.”

Manfred is referring to the two exhibition games played between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets at the former home of the Montreal Expos, Olympic Stadium, that drew 96,350 fans.

Of course, even Fargo, North Dakota could average 48,000 fans per game if there were only two games in a season. It is something else to do that 81 times in six months.

Still, it is something to keep an eye on because the one team most often associated with moving to Montreal is the Rays and the biggest thing to keep an eye on is one thing Manfred hinted at, a new stadium.

At this point, nobody should be worried about Montreal stealing the Rays as Olympic Stadium is 14 years older than The Trop. But if Montreal finds a way to build a new stadium, then it will be time to worry.

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3 Comments

  1. Gus says:

    Because nothing says "baseball" like a hockey-crazed french-speaking City in a province that doesn't want to even be in Canada. Even the immigrant population growth in Montreal is coming from non-baseball playing countries in the Carribean (Haiti and Jamaica) and from the middle east.

    If you were designing a large metro area to not be a good baseball market, it would look demographically like Montreal, where baseball would have some real work to do to overcome hockey and even soccer. Throw in billions of pension shortfalls and an intractable public sector union, and I don't see it. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/protesters-set-up-blockade-at-port-of-montreal

    So leave the 3rd largest US state to play in Montreal, Canada? I guess baseball needs a stalking horse, but it should at least be one that isn't so ridiculous.

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  2. angrybuddha says:

    It's been said a million times that every team that wants their city to build them a new stadium needs the "mistress" - the city to which they can credibly decamp if the current city council doesn't play ball.

    LA is that city for every NFL team.

    Montreal is that city for every MLB team. And Rob Manfred is smart enough to maintain that facade.

    [Sidebar, I grew up an Expos fan. I was heartbroken when they left. And I wrap myself in every Nationals loss like it's a warm blanket. Any case, with the Expos dead, my team is now the Rays. And as cool as it might be to have my two baseball loves converge... it's never gonna to happen. The Rays are *never* moving to Montreal. Besides, I'd hate for TB fans to feel the same heartbreak that I did when Selig & Loria knifed the Expos in the back in a dark alley.]

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  3. FortMyersDave says:

    These threats of moving an MLB franchise to cities like San Antonio, Portland OR, Montreal, Charlotte, Vegas, etc are going to haunt both Tampa Bay and Oakland until their owners get new stadiums. I would not be surprised if half of the rumors concerning uprooting one of the franchises to one of these cities actually are put out by the franchise themselves or MLB just to light a fire under stubborn officials (here in Rays' land the St Pete City Council) to finally act.... Montreal may have had a couple of exhibition sell outs but remember that Expo home attendance was averaging under 10K per game in the seasons before the move to DC. Plus if people think that the Trop or the Coliseum in Oakland need to be replaced; well how about Olympic stadium? It was outdated when the Trop was built and it doubtful that a new stadium would go over big in Francophone land where they seem more concerned about seccession from Canada and the NHL than the MLB. I think the threat is just smoke and mirrors to get the St Pete city council to make some concessions and allow Stu to look at potential stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties....

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