Beeston Will Consider Hosting Some Home Games in Montreal

The news that Jays president Paul Beeston will give heed to the idea of the Blue Jays playing some games in Montreal is a recipe for failure and would be a mark on an otherwise brilliant tenure in Toronto .

There is absolutely no way that a regular season major league game should ever be played at the Stade Olympique ever again.  Montreal had their chance with a the Expos and the people, the media, the province and businesses abandoned the Expos.  So keep your hands off the Blue Jays.  They are Toronto ’s team and I can see no benefit to them playing in Montreal unless the Beeston is going to make millions from the city to buy a handful of games.

This may be a reaction of Rogers who have paid Ralph Wilson up to $10 million to have the Bills play one regular season game at the Rogers Centre over several years.  Rogers has grossly overpaid for a mediocre/bad NFL team and the game and perhaps Beeston on Rogers behest is looking to pass this albatross onto Montreal . 

The province of Quebec has not had organised baseball since the Expos left after the 2004 season.  Baseball is not new to Quebec and has a deep history.  If people in Montreal want baseball back they need to build a new park and attract an International League team.  Baby steps if they want their Expos back.  A handful of Montrealers have been waxing the loss of the Expos every April and telling Torontonians that “the Jays are next”.  Well, thanks for the warning but if Montreal thinks Toronto is going to lose a team on their behalf they are delusional.  Having the Jays or any other MLB team have regular season games in Montreal is not a reflection of what an expanding market such as the experiments that we have seen with MLB having games in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Hawaii and Japan.  Other teams have tried to have out of market home games in an effort to expand fan base or to for other reasons Montreal Expos in San Juan , Tampa Bay in Orlando , Brooklyn in Jersey City and the White Sox in Milwaukee .  These experiments have all failed.  Across sports the idea of a two city team has always failed.  Toronto should not have to be subjected to this.  The market is large enough to support a MLB team and there is no reason to test the market in other cities or go back to crumbling Olympic Stadium in Lame Duck Montreal.

Another argument that has arisen is that the Blue Jays are now “ Canada ’s Team”.  This is something that Jays marketing may have to address in Quebec .   One can find Jays fans coast-to-coast in Canada and games can be seen regularly on Sportsnet or SN1 and heard on radio syndicates.  Now, the Jays are being broadcast on French Language radio stations in Quebec , now it may be time for Rogers to stand –up a French language SportsNet and carry baseball in French language.   Also, bluejays.com, bluejays.ca and mlb.com have zero French language content.  These are great websites  and are already translated into several languages.  There is no reason the Jays or MLB.com can translate into French. 

That said, the French language  baseball fan had their team, the Expos, and lost it.  While the Jays are “ Canada ’s Team” they are still the TORONTO BLUE JAYS and will not play in Montreal .  If a baseball fans wants to see the Jays, come to Toronto , watch it on tv or see them on the road.

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  • Because of the fact that baseball has such a deep history in Quebec, I am sure that there is still an appetite for it. I don’t think this move is about encouraging Montrealers to get another MLB team, moreso to encourage younger fans to choose the Jays as their team (rather than the Yankees or the Red Sox). Why not give them a taste of what live major-league calibre baseball is like? A great opportunity for those that were too young to see the Expos and those who don’t have the means to come to Toronto or the eastern seaboard to see a game.

    The Jays have a potential market of 30,000,000+ and Montreal/Quebec is an important part of that. There is no reason NOT to have bluejays.com in French. We are a bilingual nation after all.

    • Mark

      Bilingual? What about the fact that 95% of the road signs and any other posted sign in Quebec is in French only? Explain biligualism there

      • Conversely, in Ontario 95% of the road signs or any other posted sign is in English. Doesn’t matter. Your cereal boxes list ingredients in both French and English, why not the Blue Jays website as well?

      • Early

        How is marketing to a language group have anything to do with bilingualism? This is a baseball website and I don`t think we need to justify the Quebec transport ministry choice of language for signs.
        As for the websites, it is already in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. Will having the mlb.com and bluejays.com translated into French insult your sensibilities?

  • samantha

    I agree. Montreal had their chance and lost it..Toronto has never lost theirs…so if we go play in Montreal are we are going to start playing home games across Canada?? And if not how fair would that be to fans on the east and west coasts?? Let the Montrealers/Quebecers enjoy the game the way the rest of the Canadians who can’t make it to Toronto do from the comfort of their couch!!

    • That’s true, Samantha. It is a slippery slope… when you start with Montreal, why not Vancouver? Halifax? Iqualuit? I wouldn’t mind a one-off game like the Jays did a while back in Puerto Rico. More than one is asking too much of Toronto fans. Exhibition/spring training games would be a much better idea.

  • MK

    I hate to point out the obvious, but Beeston was talking about an exhibition game. There was no mention anywhere about a regular season game.

    • Please do. It is important to point out the obvious 🙂

    • Early

      Thanks MK, this whole deal is still in the initial workings. I think an exhibition game would be a gong show for Montreal. Imagine setting up the 50,000 seat Olympic Stadium for a exhibition game that no one will go to. It really would be nostalgic for the dozens of Expos fans that would show up.

      • How can you say with any certainty that only dozens would show up?

        • Early

          I cannot say for certainty, it is exaggeration but having 5000 people for a regular season game was not abnormal for the Expos, have a neutral site exhibition game does not bode well for drawing people.

  • If plans are in the works for a regular season game or series I would be against it due to logistics. Going to Montreal =

    extra travel
    media interviews left and right
    essentially an away game, staying in hotels
    Questionable turf quality

    Perhaps coming out of the all-star break, otherwise it would be a pain in the ass for the Jays players

    • If they are going to have to convert Olympic Stadium to play, why not just convert Jarry Parc to baseball? Do it do it do it!!

    • LJ

      This was my reason for objecting to a regular season game, also. Remember Philly last year? Was it not considered advantageous to the Phillies to have 3 more games at CBP?

      Via Rail conveniently dumps baseball fans from Montreal to walking distance from the dome in about 4 hours. You could even make a day trip out of it, if you were that nuts. There’s an early morning train that gets you to Toronto at 11:30 am on a Saturday, and a return trip at 6:00 or 6:30, getting you back to Montreal by midnight.

      That said, if such a series happened… ROAD TRIP.

  • RM

    I think it would be awesome if the Jays could put a AAA team in Montreal. I know it’s not as simple as just “putting” a team there, but if you want to draw up some interest out there, that’d be a great way. Fans nowadays enjoy watching prospects move up the ranks, and if you could get a AAA fanbase in Montreal, I think conversely that could translate into more Montreal fans being interested in the Jays, having followed the AAA team. Those people would probably be interested in making a few trips to see the big team. Do that first, then once you have the baseball infrastructure in place, let them play 2 exhibition games/year (last exhibition of Spring). If those are smash hits, then who knows, maybe a regular season game or two makes sense. I think we’ll all agree that there are many, many fans across Canada. For and for this team, it’s not just about attendance. There are many other ways to bring in revenue.

  • J

    The only thing that would make an end of grapefruit league game at Olympic Stadium a failure would be if it lost money (and even then, I could look at it as a marketing expense provided it wasn’t enormous). Why would 10,000 fans be a failure? And if you’re that concerned, you might be able to play the Red Sox and guarantee the crowd.

    That said, there’s likely a few logistical problems involved with a game there. Turf, staff, does anyone actually own and maintain the place?

    I like the idea but I do think there other markets better setup for games like these.

  • MTL

    Quit trashing the Expos, and more than anything don’t criticize the city. A whole lotta things went wrong over there with MLB toying with the Expos ownership, there are many fingers to point in their demise – and keep in mind that your Blue Jays voted for the contraction of the Expos; so as far as I’m concerned the Blue Jays can stay the hell out of Montreal -traitorous neighbors. The Expos opened up the door for baseball in Canada, and in the late 70’s-mid 80’s they were THE team in Canada – so the Blue Jays playing a publicity game in Montreal would be like jumping on the coffin seven years after driving the knife into the Expos back. If it weren’t for the Expos proving to MLB in their first decade that baseball could thrive in Canada, then there’d be no Blue Jays. And it’s not whether the Blue Jays would be able to make good on a move like this, it’s that Montrealers don’t care and never have cared about the Blue Jays, and in the absence of the Expos (still an open wound) I’m certain that most Montreal sports fans don’t want to see baseball anytime soon. It is unfortunate, mind you, that the overall baseball interest has fallen in Montreal – I guess that’s what happens when a strike kills your chances of a playoff berth, the team gets sold to a succession of carpetbaggers who run it into the ground and send your star players packing in routine firesales, 28 MLB owners vote against your existence and buy you for pennies, and the Commissioners Office eliminates your September call-up opportunities in a final hurrah wild card run. Even in 2003, with bottom of the barrel revenue and no support from anyone in MLB, the Expos still maintained a late season drive – to be cut short by the rigors of playing a bunch of ‘home games’ in San Juan, and being stripped of the privilege of call-ups. Selig was trying to swat out the Expos like a fly, and they kept breathing (due to a brilliant, archetypal farm system that had been there since day one) so he finally pulled the plug and stopped the breathing. There’s lots of hostility in the air, so as far as I’m concerned, a BJ’s game in Montreal would be the biggest slap in the face to the Expos and their history in every way possible. It figures that someone in their brass would try to do something sly like this. It’s a sad chapter in Montreal’s overall sporting legend, and the last decade of the Expos were tears every year, so for the love of God just let it sleep for a few more years Beeston.