Why the Montreal Expos Could Be Back Sooner Than Later
A few years ago, commissioner Rob Manfred said that all the teams would have to be clearly established in the league before thinking of expansion. When every team will be stable, he could then think of expansion.
The Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays were the two teams that had financial difficulties and who could be in danger of moving. But once Oakland stabilized its situation with the announcement of a new stadium (thanks to the Oakland Raiders moving to Vegas on that one), it was nothing but good news for all the Montrealers. If the Rays find themselves a stadium, the league could move forward with the expansion process with Montreal at the top of the list. If not, the Rays would have to move and the idea to bring them in Montreal is very logic since they could stay in the same division. We are also talking about a division where the Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees play. These three teams are the most popular among the fans in the province of Quebec.
Talking about these Rays, their future in Florida has never been so uncertain. Their window to escape their lease with the Tropicana Field in order to move closer to Tampa Bay is now gone. They are now stuck in their unfriendly stadium until 2027, but maybe Rob Manfred will not accept this situation and will have to intervene at some point.
Why It Can Work
But whether the return of a professional team in Montreal comes by expansion or a team like the Rays moving, the project is more solid than ever. A future stadium to replace the old Olympic stadium in the plans and the emplacement should be announced at the beginning of 2019.
The owners are also more credible than Jeffrey Loria was. We are talking about Stephen Bronfman, son of former Expos’ first owner Charles Bronfman and businessman Mitch Garber, two men who are involved since a few years in the project. The credibility of the two men is important to Montreal mayor’s Valérie Plante, Quebec’s Prime minister François Legault and MLB commissioner’s Rob Manfred. They are not depending on public money, which is very interesting for everyone.
But most importantly, the fans are readier than ever. Because of former Blue Jays’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos, baseball fans in the province relive from their ashes. The acquisition of Montreal’s Russell Martin and the beginning of the Jays’ exhibition games in Montreal are all Anthopoulos’ ideas that helped the fans listening to baseball again. On the internet, on the radio or on the television, the sport is gaining momentum and the baseball discussions are more present than ever.
The feeling in Montreal is that it’s not a question of IF the Expos are going to be back, but more of a WHEN. If it goes by an expansion, it could be in three to five years. But if it goes by the Rays moving, it’s up to them.