It’s been 13 years since an MLB franchise has existed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Expos called Canada home from 1969-2004, playing most notably in Olympic Stadium. That concrete spaceship hosted the 1976 Summer Olympics, and is basically version 1.0 of Tropicana Field.
The Expos, while beloved in Montreal after they relocated in 2004 to become the Washington Nationals, didn’t have much of a fan base in their nearly 40 years of existence. Why would they? The Expos had an all-time losing record, and never drew more than 2.4 million fans in a season.
In the last seven years of their existence, they never averaged more than 13,000 fans a game. From 2003-2004, they had to play 22 of their home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico as a result.
The cherry on top of all of this was that in 1999, the team was bought by Jeffrey Loria, who managed to destroy the fabric of the team. Loria then sold the team to the MLB, who then loaned Loria money to buy the Florida Marlins, who he has also run into the ground.
The funny thing about all of this is that Loria was an art dealer, and then someone decided to entrust him with a professional sports franchise. What we have all learned here is that not all paintings are winners, and not every Jeffrey Loria is nice and understanding.
To make matters worse, their mascot, Youppi!, has the dubious distinction of being the only MLB mascot to ever be ejected during a game. Youppi! is now the mascot of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, so even the Expos mascot was able to move on.
Information aside, the Expos sucked, their stadium was awful and the city didn’t care. Still, the city of Montreal and even the MLB itself feels it’s in the best interest to bring a team back to Montreal, even after all the things that happened.
So why does Major League Baseball want to put a team back in Montreal or rather, should they put a team back in Montreal?
Well, the first thing is the resurgence of Expos “fans” across baseball, especially in Montreal. There has been a new sense of nostalgia instilled in baseball, and those who supported the Expos or liked any part of the team’s history want the Expos to become a team again.
Some of the greatest players in MLB history played the a large part of their careers with the Expos: Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero. The problem is, that like all other things that go out of style, the fans came out in support a decade after the team closed. Unlike when the SuperSonics left Seattle, the fans didn’t care until other important people started to care. And also, unlike the SuperSonics, their team owner didn’t own a hipster coffee chain (*cough* Starbucks *cough*).
Secondly, the city of Montreal has the support of Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. He recognizes the importance of an MLB franchise in the city, so he wants to bring the history back to a city with history. However, there’s one big problem with all of this: MONTREAL ISN’T A BASEBALL CITY! There’s a reason why Canada is known for hockey. The Canadiens own, and have owned Montreal since they joined the NHL in 1917, consistently selling out games at the Bell Centre.
To put this in perspective, there have been several seasons where the Canadiens have drawn more than twice the average attendance of the Expos. The Habs stole the mascot and the fans even before the Expos went extinct. The Expos didn’t even need to have a greedy art dealer take over the team to fall into obscurity because the Canadiens did it for them.
Writing this article seems so useless since there’s no physical way the MLB will ever put a team back in Montreal. Canada has the Blue Jays, they’re fine. Canada doesn’t need another mediocre team after experiencing the Vancouver Grizzlies for six years.
Besides, if the MLB wanted to move a team, probably the Tampa Bay Rays, to Montreal, there’s no point. The object is to keep things away from Canada. Evan Longoria is an American treasure, not some Canadian novelty. America has had its share of bad Canadian exports: Nickelback, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Labatt Blue. Why should we give them something when they have given us so much bad?
So, what’s the answer to the question, “Will an MLB team move to Montreal/Should an MLB team move to Montreal?” No.