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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Davidi: Jays set to play Montreal exhibition games

The Definitive History of the…

The expected announcement Tuesday of a pair of Toronto Blue Jays spring training games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium next year versus the New York Mets will bring to fruition an event that’s been in the works for at least a couple of years.

It was in April 2011 that club president Paul Beeston first floated the idea of bringing some pre-season action to La Belle Province, part of the franchise’s strategy to build a country-wide fan-base. There were issues to sort through, but the idea made a lot of sense.

“If we could ever work it out with a stadium that would work, the people wanted us, and we thought it worked, we’d consider it,” Beeston said in an interview back then. “We can do television there, we can do radio there, and Montreal was a great baseball city.

“It’s nothing more than a concept, but a concept whose time could come sooner rather than later.”

Repoz Posted: September 10, 2013 at 06:48 AM | 80 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: expos

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   1. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 10, 2013 at 07:35 AM (#4537808)
Calling Montreal a "great baseball city" seems a bit generous. It looks like they finished in the top half of league attendance 7 times in 35 years. Of course they were usually bad, but even when they had good teams in the early to mid 1990s the attendance was bad.
   2. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: September 10, 2013 at 07:42 AM (#4537809)
I'm so going to be there for both games. I can't wait.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 07:48 AM (#4537812)
Calling Montreal a "great baseball city" seems a bit generous. It looks like they finished in the top half of league attendance 7 times in 35 years. Of course they were usually bad, but even when they had good teams in the early to mid 1990s the attendance was bad.

It's marketing. What is he going to do when he's trying to sell tickets/get viewers? Call it a ####-hole?
   4. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 10, 2013 at 08:02 AM (#4537817)
Call it a ####-hole?

Le ####-hole. LE ####-hole.
   5. crict Posted: September 10, 2013 at 08:02 AM (#4537818)
To be fair, in the mid 1990s the marketing slogan was "Come indoors and see us play in the worst building ever constructed while we beg for a new stadium".
   6. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 10, 2013 at 08:14 AM (#4537821)
"Venez à l'intérieur et nous voir jouer dans le pire bâtiment jamais construit alors que nous prions pour un nouveau stade."
   7. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 10, 2013 at 08:22 AM (#4537825)
I need a Random Translation Generator!

Wakka wakka!
   8. villageidiom Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4537847)
I need a Random Translation Generator!

Mike Crudale, aussi.
   9. Benji Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4537849)
It was the worst venue for baseball that I ever attended. And it was the end of the Expos. Going to Jarry Park was a fun experience. Olympic Stadium was like having a tooth pulled.
   10. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4537855)
I need a Random Translation Generator!


Google Translate substituted "beg" with "pray", which I thought was a nice Quebecois-Catholic choice of words.

The worst venue I ever watched baseball was Exhibition Stadium (Toronto, pre-SkyDome/Rogers Centre).
Because the stadium was originally designed for football (ARRRRGOOOOOS!), the metal benches (!) down the 1st base side near the outfield didn't face the infield, but faced the outfield (where the centerfielder would stand). You had to either turn your body to face the infield/batter (leaving you with only one cheek on the bench) or turn your head (hello sore neck) for the entire game.
In April and September, those benches could get awfully ####### cold to sit on as the wind whipped off the lake and into the stadium.

As much as people like to rag on SkyDome/RC as being bland, it's a godsend to have a comfortable place to watch baseball and not worry about the weather or comfort.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4537859)



To be fair, in the mid 1990s the marketing slogan was "Come indoors and see us play in the worst building ever constructed while we beg for a new stadium".


I agree, and I think any knock against Montreal as a bad baseball city is unfair. But I also don't think its quite accurate to say they were a great baseball city. They were consistently in the bottom half of the league in attendance in the late 80s with a team that was either around .500 or better, with pretty marketable stars like Andres Galarraga, Tim Raines, and Tim Wallach. Yea, it was a crummy stadium, but there were a lot of crummy stadiums in the 80s.
   12. fra paolo Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4537863)
Calling Montreal a "great baseball city" seems a bit generous. It looks like they finished in the top half of league attendance 7 times in 35 years.

Some version of this canard crops up every time we have a thread about baseball in Montréal.

Between 1969 and about 1992, Montréal did about as well as a market of its size could be expected. Baseball attendance in the United States got a substantial fillip with National-League expansion in 1993 and the start of the 'Camden Yards' generation of ballparks which Montréal did not experience, and which was to some extent masked by a temporary decline of attendance growth after the owners cancelled the 1994 season in the midst of the players' strike.

As a market, Montréal stood comparison with San Francisco through the early 1990s. The two markets' fortunes diverged for a variety of reasons after 1994, including the fact that Montréal's ownership lost interest in spending money to field a competitive team on the principle that fans will come out to see a winner.

One cannot just look at attendance figures. One has to take into account the size of the market. Pittsburgh hasn't topped the National League in attendance since 1948, and hasn't finished in the top half more than four times since 1969. This isn't because Pittsburgh is a 'bad baseball town'. It's because Pittsburgh is the smallest market in the league. Montréal's market isn't a great deal bigger.
   13. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4537864)
It was the worst venue for baseball that I ever attended.

It was the best sports venue for drinking beer that I ever attended. And I remember that the building had ATMs a couple of years before Shea and Yankee Stadiums.
   14. just plain joe Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4537865)
Because the stadium was originally designed for football (ARRRRGOOOOOS!), the metal benches (!) down the 1st base side near the outfield didn't face the infield, but faced the outfield (where the centerfielder would stand). You had to either turn your body to face the infield/batter (leaving you with only one cheek on the bench) or turn your head (hello sore neck) for the entire game.


That was generally true of the Metrodome as well. My seat for a Twins game was just past the third base dugout and it was oriented straight ahead, instead of being towards home plate. It would have been great for football but if I wanted to see homeplate or the batter, I had to sit at an angle or turn my head.
   15. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4537866)
But I also don't think its quite accurate to say they were a great baseball city.

Fourth, fourth, third, third, third in NL attendance from 1979-83 playing in a ########. Pretty damn good.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 09:49 AM (#4537867)

Fourth, fourth, third, third, third in NL attendance from 1979-83 playing in a ########. Pretty damn good.


Doesn't pretty much every team finish in the top five in attendance when they are really good?

Montreal is great in the sense that every city other than Tampa Bay and Oakland is a great baseball town, if that is our standard.
   17. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:04 AM (#4537878)
Pittsburgh hasn't topped the National League in attendance since 1948, and hasn't finished in the top half more than four times since 1969. This isn't because Pittsburgh is a 'bad baseball town'. It's because Pittsburgh is the smallest market in the league. Montréal's market isn't a great deal bigger.


Huh? Pittsburgh has a population of just over 300,000, with a metro area of 2.6 million. Montreal has a population a bit over 1.6 million, with a metro area of 3.8 million.

   18. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4537880)
Why shouldn't it be?

I mean you had people in the media sneering at Montreal for preferring hockey, when half the cities in the league would throw their baseball team over a cliff to get a Super Bowl. Combine that with some major anti-French prejudice and it was totally unfair.

The narrative in San Francisco in the 80s was that SF just didn't care about baseball, it was a football town and maybe even a little too effete to like the 49ers (so substitute anti-French prejudice for homophobia - I always felt the wine and cheese jibes came from there). Then the Giants got a stadium that wasn't a total poophole and now the narrative is SF is the greatest baseball town west of St. Louis.

Montrealers will tell you the city was crazy for the Expos in the late 60s (when they blew the doors off any other expansion or relocated team attendance-wise) and crazy for them in the late 70s and early 80s when they were contending for the playoffs.

Even in 1994, they probably would have averaged 30,000 a game had the season run its course, since they were filling up the park after June when people cottoned on to the team being just that good.
   19. fra paolo Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4537881)
Doesn't pretty much every team finish in the top five in attendance when they are really good?

No.

35,1979,Pittsburgh Pirates,NL East,98,64,1,Won WS (4-3),Three Rivers Stadium,1435454,17722,10th of 12,,104,105
43,1971,Pittsburgh Pirates,NL East,97,65,1,Won WS (4-3),Three Rivers Stadium,1501132,18764,7th of 12,,99,102

From 1969 until 1983, the Baltimore Orioles finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the AL East every season but one, and were only in the top five in attendance three times.
   20. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4537885)
The Rays in their post-2008 run have still not had a season as good as the Expos ~24,000 average in 1994.
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4537887)

From 1969 until 1983, the Baltimore Orioles finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the AL East every season but one, and were only in the top five in attendance three times.


Okay. I'm still not seeing the case that Montreal is a great baseball town. Having a nice stretch of attendance for five years when they had three HOFers in their prime on their roster doesn't really strike me as super impressive. I think people are getting defensive as if people are accusing Montreal of being a bad baseball town, which no one seems to be accusing them of. They seem perfectly cromulent to me.
   22. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4537900)
I guess the question is what is a great baseball town? Red Sox ratings have fallen through the floor and everybody in Boston tries to accessorize with Bruins gear now. Like I said a few posts ago, the Giants were barely relevant compared to the 49ers in the 80s, even when they were good. Those are both well-regarded baseball towns now.

Joe Falls wrote of Detroit as America's best baseball town, but it sure feels like a Red Wings town. Tampa gets terrible attendance, but very good TV ratings. Pittsburgh is now going completely wild over the Pirates but is regarded by most as a premier football town.


   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4537904)
I guess the question is what is a great baseball town?


ONLY ST. LOUIS.
   24. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4537911)
I've seen the Expos at Olympic Stadium. To me, it seemed like... a baseball stadium. I don't really get the hate for it. I'm not saying it was the world's most wonderful baseball experience. I'm just... I don't know, I'm there to see the game, not to marvel at the architecture or whatever. I don't really care one way or the other about the stadium (stadiums in general, that is, not just Olympic Stadium in particular).
   25. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4537914)
A great baseball town is measured by whatever yardstick you have convenient at the time, or the one that matches your narrative.

These games are officially a Good Thing. Just remember, they started holding exhibition games at RFK in the 1980s and finally got a baseball team back in Washington in 2005. So I fully expect Montreal to host a baseball team by about 2035 or so.
   26. fra paolo Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4537915)
Huh? Pittsburgh has a population of just over 300,000, with a metro area of 2.6 million. Montreal has a population a bit over 1.6 million, with a metro area of 3.8 million.

Look at Nate Silver's four-part analysis of market size, which IMO is the best study that is widely available on the topic, here, here, here and here.

He ranks Montréal 21st in attendance market and 24th as a television market. Pittsburgh is 28th in both. In numbers that is attendance, 3.9m (Mon) vs 2.75m (Pit), and television, 6.2m (Mon) vs 5.5m (Pit). I don't consider that a 'great deal bigger'. They are both in the bottom third of the rankings of attendance markets.

Furthermore, the revenue disparities in baseball are largely caused by television money. But that 6.2m market isn't straightforward, because there are separate markets for English and French television rights, so that creates two smaller advertising markets as opposed to Pittsburgh's undivided one. And that also balances out somewhat Montréal's attendance advantage.
   27. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4537917)
I came across a 1979 Giants-Expos game on YouTube a little while ago, and the thing that struck me the most about it was how awful Olympic Stadium was. Vast, echoey, empty, with turf that was a sickly unnatural shade of green, and hardly a white chalk line or chunk of dirt to break up the monotony. The outfield fence was a high, undecorated industrial blue. Where there should have been a dirt path up against the backstop, there was instead a plastic-looking track oval, giving the impression that baseball was an afterthought to the more olympian sports.

It embodied Bill James description of dome-bound baseball as "baseball played in a warehouse." A couple of forklifts would have actually improved the ambience.
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4537919)
Doesn't pretty much every team finish in the top five in attendance when they are really good?


No.

35,1979,Pittsburgh Pirates,NL East,98,64,1,Won WS (4-3),Three Rivers Stadium,1435454,17722,10th of 12,,104,105
43,1971,Pittsburgh Pirates,NL East,97,65,1,Won WS (4-3),Three Rivers Stadium,1501132,18764,7th of 12,,99,102

From 1969 until 1983, the Baltimore Orioles finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the AL East every season but one, and were only in the top five in attendance three times.


During the A's great run in the early 70's, when they won the ALW five years in a row with three World Series titles in the middle, they finished 7th, 5th, 8th, 11th and 7th out of 12 in attendance. I went to three LCS games in Oakland (1971) and Baltimore (1974) during those years, and the crowds were all between 28,000 and 33,000. Attendance is based on market size, a city's baseball tradition, the team's recent success, the presence of superstars, and marketing, not any one thing.
   29. fra paolo Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4537920)
ONLY ST. LOUIS

And that's another thing. Two directly comparable markets to Montréal's in terms of size are St Louis and Cincinnati, two of the greatest baseball markets in the country, in my lifetime.

So poor Montréal, a city in which baseball could never expect to supplant hockey any more than baseball is likely to supplant football in Pittsburgh, has generally been held to an unfair standard in my opinion.
   30. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4537924)
But that 6.2m market isn't straightforward, because there are separate markets for English and French television rights, so that creates two smaller advertising markets as opposed to Pittsburgh's undivided one.


Of course, you could always do what the Canadiens did, and just sell games in French. The two solitudes thing doesn't really exist anymore, in the sense that the anglophones left in Quebec almost all have at worst a good enough command of French to be able to listen to a ballgame. The handful who don't speak French could always pair up the pictures with English radio. English TV rights could be sold outside the province.

That said, Canada organizes their metro areas weirdly. There are at least another 250,000 people who live within a 45 minute drive of Montreal, which would probably put them in a comparable US metro area (for example, Providence and Manchester, NH are both in the Boston metro area). But they are part of the St-Jean metro area, the Granby metro area, etc.
   31. RJ in TO Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4537926)
The worst venue I ever watched baseball was Exhibition Stadium (Toronto, pre-SkyDome/Rogers Centre).
Because the stadium was originally designed for football (ARRRRGOOOOOS!), the metal benches (!) down the 1st base side near the outfield didn't face the infield, but faced the outfield (where the centerfielder would stand). You had to either turn your body to face the infield/batter (leaving you with only one cheek on the bench) or turn your head (hello sore neck) for the entire game.
In April and September, those benches could get awfully ####### cold to sit on as the wind whipped off the lake and into the stadium.


Yes, Exhibition was an absolute hole. And you forgot to mention how, with the metal benches, you ran a good chance of dying of heat stroke if you made the mistake of showing up for an afternoon game in the summer. When they got rid of that place and moved to SkyDome, it was a great day for mankind.
   32. fra paolo Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4537927)
I'm still not seeing the case that Montreal is a great baseball town.

It is probably at least the third-best baseball town in the country. (Edmonton has a case, too.)
   33. RJ in TO Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4537934)
I've seen the Expos at Olympic Stadium. To me, it seemed like... a baseball stadium. I don't really get the hate for it. I'm not saying it was the world's most wonderful baseball experience. I'm just... I don't know, I'm there to see the game, not to marvel at the architecture or whatever. I don't really care one way or the other about the stadium (stadiums in general, that is, not just Olympic Stadium in particular).

I agree with this. It certainly wasn't some wonderful baseball paradise, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had been led to believe as a place to watch baseball.

Plus the beers were big, and very reasonably priced.
   34. BrianBrianson Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4537935)
I guess the question is what is a great baseball town?


Like Toronto, only for baseball instead of hockey. Where the ownership can be openly disinterested in winning games for the better part of a century, but you still sell out a stadium that sits three quarters of a million people every night.
   35. RJ in TO Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4537936)
Like Toronto, only for baseball instead of hockey. Where the ownership can be openly disinterested in winning games for the better part of a century, but you still sell out a stadium that sits three quarters of a million people every night.

So Chicago, with the Cubs.
   36. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4537938)
Seems like the Blue Jays could make some significant money if they really became "Canada's Team", rather than just Toronto's or just Ontario's. Are any of their games televised nationwide now? Ratings any good?
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4537940)



I've seen the Expos at Olympic Stadium. To me, it seemed like... a baseball stadium. I don't really get the hate for it. I'm not saying it was the world's most wonderful baseball experience. I'm just... I don't know, I'm there to see the game, not to marvel at the architecture or whatever. I don't really care one way or the other about the stadium (stadiums in general, that is, not just Olympic Stadium in particular).


Where is it in relation to Montreal? Nice location?
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4537942)
Where is it in relation to Montreal? Nice location?

Not really. It's on an island in the river. Not particularly close to downtown.
   39. BrianBrianson Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4537944)
Jays say they broadcast coast to coast , but most games are on Sportsnet, so presumably for anglos only. Not sure if the CBC or TSN games are also broadcast en francais. Of course, most francophones are capable of understanding English well enough, though making them do so it #### branding.

Not really. It's on an island in the river. Not particularly close to downtown.


Huh? It's on the island on Montreal, and on a subway line. Not exactly "downtown", but it's reasonably accessible. Maybe five miles?
   40. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4537947)
It is probably at least the third-best baseball town in the country. (Edmonton has a case, too.)

This is a conversation we haven't and should have.
Quebec City is up there, right?
Some part of BC - Victoria (though they don't even have a permanent facility)?
Winnipeg draws well, but I don't know how much of that is simply competent ownership.
   41. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4537958)
Jays say they broadcast coast to coast , but most games are on Sportsnet, so presumably for anglos only. Not sure if the CBC or TSN games are also broadcast en francais. Of course, most francophones are capable of understanding English well enough, though making them do so it #### branding.


It's really quite amazing seeing how many Blue Jays jerseys there are at games in Seattle, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Detroit.
During one game in Seattle, you would have sworn it was a Jays home game because of the loud cheering the Jays got when they scored runs.

The border fans in B.C. (for Seattle) and the middle of the country (for Minnesota) are being marketed to quite well.
The snowbirds in Florida always turn up, and Detroit is nestled up against the populous southwest Ontario area.
   42. RJ in TO Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4537974)
Huh? It's on the island on Montreal, and on a subway line. Not exactly "downtown", but it's reasonably accessible. Maybe five miles?

I'm not sure what snapper means by this either - it's not exactly in the middle of nowhere.

There is a legitimate complaint that there's really not much to do around the stadium after the game, but that's a separate issue from general accessibility.
   43. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4537982)
It's a little far for the Anglos on the West Island to get to - it's a real haul from somewhere like Dorval, where you don't have the metro. That was a legitimate complaint.

The neighborhood being a total vacuum for anything entertaining to do pre and post-game is and was a big problem. More than most cities, Montrealers really like to make a night of going to an event.

Jarry Park was central and near a ton of stuff, so it was relatively successful, but the Big O was built in Hochelaga because Mayor Drapeau was from there.

The CFL Alouettes may be illustrative here. They were really struggling at the Big O until a U2 concert forced them to move to the small but centrally located Molson Stadium on the McGill campus. Now they sell out every game.
   44. catomi01 Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4537985)
the articles referenced in 26 are very good in my opinion and worth a second read (or first if you missed them originally)...there obviously dated now by a few years, but I would think the larger picture still holds true. At the moment, it seems baseball has pretty well saturated the available markets capable of supporting a team. Would a triple A or other minor league team in Montreal make sense for the next 5-10 years? Smaller crowd, shorter season would seem like it would effectively draw in those who were hungry for baseball in the area, and from there could be used to start ramping up interest in the longer term.

I'd be interested to see a similar study to the one in 26 that included a few of the Canadian cities listed above, along with a few others (Nashville or Memphis, Little Rock, or even a few in Mexico/Japan or Honolulu)

Japan really seems like the ultimate frontier/next big break - directly incorporating some of the best teams from NPL as MLB expansion teams...the biggest issues would be a) is it worth it for the best NPL teams to become the 31st and 32nd MLB teams, and lose a lot of the existing history by not playing as many games against local competition and b) the biggest would be the travel...you'd need to reduce travel time and expense significantly to make road trips more feasible....and the last would be attracting big league talent -even if travel could be overcome, I'd have to think most US/hispanic players would chose comparable offers in North America to those overseas.

If/when those details could be overcome, it would open up the entire Pacific Rim region....but given the scope of those issues, thats a decades-long process, not a matter of a few years.
   45. Ron J2 Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4537989)
#43 They do make use of the higher seating capacity at the Big O for playoff games.
   46. winnipegwhip Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4537992)
Winnipeg draws well, but I don't know how much of that is simply competent ownership.


The Goldeyes are owned by the current mayor Sam Katz. He does an excellent job of running the club by hiring the right people and letting them do there work. We had Hal Lanier as a manager for a dozen years straight. The Goldeyes still are accepted despite the fact the city is run by Sammany Hall.
   47. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4537994)
Would a triple A or other minor league team in Montreal make sense for the next 5-10 years? Smaller crowd, shorter season would seem like it would effectively draw in those who were hungry for baseball in the area, and from there could be used to start ramping up interest in the longer term.


To find the money for AAA you might as well just build a big league stadium and start angling for a team. There would probably also be resentment over Montreal being an AAA city.

I think the pro baseball league that makes sense for Montreal in the short term is a Can-Am team. There's already a lot of moves towards that, to the point a team looks imminent. You could build a stadium somewhere on the island or just off of it for fairly cheap (with a little bit of provincial money available), there'd be rivalries with Quebec and Trois-Rivieres and the league would absolutely love it as Montreal would be a big anchor market for the league. They had an exhibition game between Quebec and Trois-Rivieres and got about 2,000 mostly Francophone people (a good crowd for Can-Am) to Gary Carter Stadium in Ahuntsic. It would sate people's interest in seeing live baseball without it being seen as the long-term replacement for MLB.

   48. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4538001)
you still sell out a stadium that sits three quarters of a million people every night.


They expanded the Air Canada Centre when I wasn't looking.
   49. Greg K Posted: September 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4538004)
Seems like the Blue Jays could make some significant money if they really became "Canada's Team", rather than just Toronto's or just Ontario's. Are any of their games televised nationwide now? Ratings any good?

I haven't been in Canada for a summer in a while, but I'm pretty sure all Jays games are broadcast nationwide and have been for a while (Rogers, who owns the Jays, also runs Rogers Sportsnet, a nationwide station that carries the Jays). TSN used to carry the odd game, and CBC (both stations also nationally carried) had like, one a year. But from watching on mlb.tv the last couple years it seems like every game is on Rogers Sportsnet now (Canadian residents can correct me here).

Not sure about French options.

When I was home in July I did notice a few Jays games were broadcast in Mandarin (or Cantonese? I forget). Wang was the starting pitcher for the first one, so perhaps that was a one-off to capture the interest of Taiwanese. Unfortunately Wang was quickly disinvited from the major league club afterwards.

Judging from my experience of living in Saskatchewan for a few years, the Jays could do a bit better outside of southern Ontario within Canada. But having more games available nationally isn't a problem (except perhaps for francophones in Quebec). If anything, there is a bit of resistance to Toronto sports teams being shoved down the rest of Canada's throat. Quite a few friends of mine at university were baseball fans, but none of them followed the Jays. One guy would actually get really annoyed when he went down to Twins games and locals would assume he was a Jays fan because he was Canadian. I think the anti-Toronto sentiment is obviously more prevalent in hockey, where Canadians have other options for teams to root for, and I would assume in any given region in Canada there are far more Jays fans than any other team. But there are some cultural barriers to Canada being a purely Jays market. Reaching out to Quebec is probably a good idea though.
   50. Russ Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4538010)
It's a little far for the Anglos on the West Island to get to - it's a real haul from somewhere like Dorval, where you don't have the metro. That was a legitimate complaint.


The worst thing baseball could do is to try to cater to the slowly dying Anglo community. The problem is that the bulk of the population growth has been in immigrants and not really the kinds of immigrants who necessarily follow baseball as a rule. I think one could interest segments of the community in baseball, but it would require some fairly deft salesmanship.

I agree about just sticking to broadcasting in French... there's really no need to broadcast the games in both languages.
   51. The District Attorney Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4538014)
If/when those details could be overcome, it would open up the entire Pacific Rim region
I dunno, I saw a movie about that and it didn't look too safe over there.
   52. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4538017)
To find the money for AAA you might as well just build a big league stadium and start angling for a team.

The difference in facility cost between a new 3A and a new ML ballpark is probably $500 million, if not more. The difference in franchise cost is a minimum of $500 million and could reach upwards of $1 billion.

There would probably also be resentment over Montreal being an AAA city.

This might be true, but you have to wonder if a city that can't or won't support a 3A team would support an ML team. The mention of 3A also reminds me that Ottawa, just 125 miles down the road from Montreal, lost its 3A team just 3 years after the Expos left Montreal, despite Ottawa having built a new facility just 15 years prior.

When an MLB team and a 3A team leave an area within the same 3-year period — a period featuring record attendance at both the MLB and MiLB levels — that seems like decent evidence that the area just isn't as baseball-crazy as some of its most passionate supporters want people to believe.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4538019)
Huh? It's on the island on Montreal, and on a subway line. Not exactly "downtown", but it's reasonably accessible. Maybe five miles?

I was confused. For some reason, I remembered it being on those smaller islands where the Casino is. It is not.
   54. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4538021)

I'd be interested to see a similar study to the one in 26 that included a few of the Canadian cities listed above, along with a few others (Nashville or Memphis, Little Rock, or even a few in Mexico/Japan or Honolulu)


New Continental Baseball League!

Atlantic
Brooklyn
Indianapolis
Montreal
New Jersey
Hartford

South
Charlotte
Memphis
Nashville
Orlando
San Juan

Southwest
Austin
Monterrey
Oklahoma City
Salt Lake
San Antonio

Pacific
Las Vegas
Portland
Sacramento
San Jose
Vancouver
   55. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4538033)
Interesting concept, but a whole lot of cities on that list have lost an MLB team (Montreal), lost a MiLB team (Orlando, Portland, Vancouver (3A)), and/or have had long-term facilities issues (Montreal, Hartford, Nashville, Orlando, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Portland).
   56. Russ Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4538034)
When an MLB team and a 3A team leave an area within the same 3-year period — a period featuring record attendance at both the MLB and MiLB levels — that seems like decent evidence that the area just isn't as baseball-crazy as some of its most passionate supporters want people to believe.


The people who are passionate about baseball in Montréal are insanely passionate (you would have to be if you lived here given how little exposure you get to the game). The problem is the attraction to baseball outside of that small minority. In Montréal, there are many, many more distractions (Jazz Festival, Comedy Festival, Film Festival, assorted Franco-centric festivals). Add to that the fact that people in Québec get an unfathomably large amount of vacation relative to Americans and a lot of them will leave the province while taking it during the summer. So during the peak baseball months, you almost have more tourists in town than you do locals. And now, in a city that has a critical mass of immigrants and first and second generation Québecers, they now have an MLS team to go see in the summer as well. It's just a really bad situation for growing a baseball audience.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is quite different. There is a long baseball history, some insanely large number of people who live in Pittsburgh were born there, and in Pittsburgh, going to a baseball game at PNC Park is seen as a fun thing to do in Pittsburgh because there not much else to do in Pittsburgh during the summer. Up to the limits of the numbers of available bodies and income to go to games, the Pirates will always have the potential to do well if they're winning.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4538041)
The people who are passionate about baseball in Montréal are insanely passionate (you would have to be if you lived here given how little exposure you get to the game). The problem is the attraction to baseball outside of that small minority. In Montréal, there are many, many more distractions (Jazz Festival, Comedy Festival, Film Festival, assorted Franco-centric festivals). Add to that the fact that people in Québec get an unfathomably large amount of vacation relative to Americans and a lot of them will leave the province while taking it during the summer. So during the peak baseball months, you almost have more tourists in town than you do locals.

It's funny, I found Montreal to have about the least stuff to do of any major city I've visited. We weren't leaving the hotel until noon, and we still ran out of stuff we wanted to see in 4 days. Quebec City and environs was much more interesting.

Of course, none of those things you mentioned interest me in the least, so maybe it's just a different scene than my tastes.
   58. BrianBrianson Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4538047)
Snapper, all that means is that you don't like the peelers, or walking around drunk manging poutine 'til sunrise. If you were leaving your hotel room at noon, of course you didn't enjoy Montreal - the people who enjoy travelling to Montreal arrive at the hotel room at noon.
   59. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4538053)
Ottawa's going to get an org ball team sooner than later - they're my pick to be the 2nd Canadian city with a minor league team. They pursued the Eastern League, are looking at the Midwest League.

I loved walking around Montreal (and, for all intents and purposes, am not a drinker).

Flynn, I'm no more than an interested, but ignorant and distant third party - but I totally agree that the CanAm is the way to go, if they can snag a facility.

   60. catomi01 Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4538068)
Flynn, I'm no more than an interested, but ignorant and distant third party - but I totally agree that the CanAm is the way to go, if they can snag a facility.


I was thinking that in my original post...but as you pointed out that AAA would be seen as an insult, I would have thought that the drop to Independent Ball would be seen as even more of a downgrade and regarded negatively. If that's not the case, then CanAm would definitely be cheaper, easier to organize, and would enjoy the other benefits that Flynn ID'ed.
   61. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4538072)
Ottawa's going to get an org ball team sooner than later - they're my pick to be the 2nd Canadian city with a minor league team. They pursued the Eastern League,

Did Ottawa finally give up on the Eastern League? I thought they were still trying for that as of 1-2 months ago, via some sort of partnership with the Blue Jays (which looked like blatant tampering, but that's another story).

are looking at the Midwest League.

I believe the New York–Penn League was Ottawa's fallback plan. The Midwest League is way too far away.
   62. crict Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4538073)
There is a French version of TSN. They broadcast random games during the season: the Sunday night game plus a random game during the week, usually. They just buy the feed, with commentators in a studio. Quebecor launched a few years ago a sports channel. They are the would-be owners of the Quebec Nordiques and the channel was designed to broadcast their games. For now, they have 60 Jays games per season. I believe the commentators (former Expos commentators Jacques Doucet and Rodger Brulotte) are in Toronto for home games but in studio for away games.
   63. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 10, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4538077)
I believe the New York–Penn League was Ottawa's fallback plan. The Midwest League is way too far away.

That's what I would think, but not what I was seeing reported. NYP certainly makes more sense in terms of geography and the number of markets that "need" an upgrade (no offense to any primates who lives in Batavia and whatnot).
   64. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 10, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4538103)
That's what I would think, but not what I was seeing reported.

Sounds like some bad speculation made it into a news report. Ottawa is at least 600 miles from the nearest MWL city. No way the MWL, MiLB, and/or MLB would approve that.

NYP certainly makes more sense in terms of geography and the number of markets that "need" an upgrade (no offense to any primates who lives in Batavia and whatnot).

The Jamestown team looks like it's moving to Morgantown, West Virginia, which only leaves Batavia as a likely relocation candidate. The Auburn team (in my hometown) is owned by the city, so it probably won't be going anywhere unless the city council members want to get run out of town. Vermont also seemed like a good candidate, but I read that they extended their lease by 20 years or more after some renovations last year. (I suppose Connecticut and Williamsport could be possibilities.)

The NY–P has become a strange league. Not many sports leagues in the world have teams in cities with populations of 18,000,000 (NYC) and 26,000 (Batavia).
   65. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: September 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4538107)
Ottawa is at least 600 miles from the nearest MWL city.
If Marion IL was problematic...
Yes, I agree with you - I'll retract my original comment.
   66. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 10, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4538113)
Yes, I agree with you - I'll retract my original comment.

I'm sure you were right about the MWL being mentioned. Ottawa's mayor seems hellbent on bringing baseball back to town, despite baseball being in a much worse position in Ottawa than it was just 5 years ago, and I've seen some crazy ideas mentioned in stories up there.

Anyway, I understand why the Blue Jays want an Eastern League team in Ottawa, but I don't see why any of the other teams would approve it. Bad April weather, plans for artificial turf, a very long bus ride, and border crossings = a whole lot of negatives.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4538116)
Snapper, all that means is that you don't like the peelers, or walking around drunk manging poutine 'til sunrise. If you were leaving your hotel room at noon, of course you didn't enjoy Montreal - the people who enjoy travelling to Montreal arrive at the hotel room at noon.

We were on our honeymoon; we had better things to do than wander around drunk.

But, even in other circumstances, I still believe in the old maxim "if you're not in bed by midnight, go home".
   68. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4538184)
Hey Der, I'm not a Montrealer. I'm just a geek about all things Montreal, and I was pleasantly surprised when I was last there how many people were rocking Expos gear and talking about the Expos. Wearing a hat and supporting a team are two different things but there's really no doubt with the death of Gary Carter, the Expos Nation group, the Warren Cromartie group and so on that interest in baseball is rising again in Montreal.

The worst thing baseball could do is to try to cater to the slowly dying Anglo community. The problem is that the bulk of the population growth has been in immigrants and not really the kinds of immigrants who necessarily follow baseball as a rule. I think one could interest segments of the community in baseball, but it would require some fairly deft salesmanship.


Well I don't mean marketing baseball just to Anglos, I mean more that people who live west of, say, NDG, have a tough time getting to the park. Every half-serious proposal for a park has it somewhere proximate to downtown, whether Ville-Marie proper or somewhere close like Griffintown.

Plus Francophones or allophones don't really want to go to the boonies either. As you know, almost everything popular in Montreal is near to downtown or St-Laurent Boulevard.

I was thinking that in my original post...but as you pointed out that AAA would be seen as an insult, I would have thought that the drop to Independent Ball would be seen as even more of a downgrade and regarded negatively. If that's not the case, then CanAm would definitely be cheaper, easier to organize, and would enjoy the other benefits that Flynn ID'ed.


The thinking I've heard from Expos fans is that a CanAm League team would be something fun to take the kids to and for the baseball community to gather around. An AAA team would feel too close to being a replacement for the Expos, closing the window of opportunity.

The people who are passionate about baseball in Montréal are insanely passionate (you would have to be if you lived here given how little exposure you get to the game). The problem is the attraction to baseball outside of that small minority. In Montréal, there are many, many more distractions (Jazz Festival, Comedy Festival, Film Festival, assorted Franco-centric festivals). Add to that the fact that people in Québec get an unfathomably large amount of vacation relative to Americans and a lot of them will leave the province while taking it during the summer. So during the peak baseball months, you almost have more tourists in town than you do locals. And now, in a city that has a critical mass of immigrants and first and second generation Québecers, they now have an MLS team to go see in the summer as well. It's just a really bad situation for growing a baseball audience.


Well, the short and glib answer is to build a baseball park that attracts people. There's a lot of stuff going on in San Francisco, but the ballpark attracts people and helps to make Giants games an event. The festivals are nice, but I'm totally unconvinced that there aren't 40,000 people each day who would rather go to a ballgame than a standup gig.

I don't really worry about immigration. The immigrants like the Italians and Jews who were around in the 60s and 70s all got into baseball, the Haitians have produced NHL players (and hockey must surely be a more foreign sport than baseball to almost all immigrant populations), and the growing Latino population is surely disposed towards baseball. The Impact do OK, but their location is actually pretty advantageous to their more Italian fanbase and OK is 16,000 a game. Honestly, I really don't see why that should be a problem for Montreal more than it is for New York City or Mars.

We were on our honeymoon; we had better things to do than wander around drunk.

But, even in other circumstances, I still believe in the old maxim "if you're not in bed by midnight, go home".


I was on my honeymoon in Montreal and that's exactly what we did. Primarily because it was too hot and humid to eat, so we lived off of poutine and steamies from 2 am Pool Room runs for 5 days after soaking our stomachs and wine and Blanche de Chambly. Best time ever.
   69. DL from MN Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4538192)
Can someone explain to me why you need to sell French and English TV rights? Do they not have SAP buttons in Canada?
   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4538194)
I was on my honeymoon in Montreal and that's exactly what we did. Primarily because it was too hot and humid to eat, so we lived off of poutine and steamies from 2 am Pool Room runs for 5 days after soaking our stomachs and wine and Blanche de Chambly. Best time ever.

I've never seen any reason to stay out late once you already have a wife/girlfriend :-)

Didn't they have AC in your hotel?
   71. Greg K Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4538199)
I've never seen any reason to stay out late once you already have a wife/girlfriend :-)

I'm sort of the opposite. I never saw the late-night/early-evening as an opportunity to meet girls. But it is the perfect time to have a lot of fun and be incredibly stupid. Next to a baseball field, 3am while drunk is the best time to flop around on the ground.
   72. The District Attorney Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4538200)
Do they not have SAP buttons in Canada?
I doubt they do!
   73. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4538208)
I'm sort of the opposite. I never saw the late-night/early-evening as an opportunity to meet girls. But it is the perfect time to have a lot of fun and be incredibly stupid. Next to a baseball field, 3am while drunk is the best time to flop around on the ground.

Yeah, different philosophy. I can do my drinking, and still be home before 10 PM. Or, better yet, drink at home! Much cheaper.

I doubt I was ever in a bar much past midnight unless I was talking to, or trying to talk, to a woman. And, I'd rather go to the dentist than a dance club.
   74. Flynn Posted: September 10, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4538213)
We hopped a lot of bars in Montreal. It was a lot of fun going from one place where people spoke French and English to another place where people spoke entirely French back to a place where people spoke French and English (you'd have to go way out west to find a bar where people spoke mostly English). Montreal has some great bars.
   75. Greg K Posted: September 10, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4538219)
And, I'd rather go to the dentist than a dance club.

We're in the same boat there. Drinking is entirely sapped of its purpose when you can't have a conversation.

Of course sometimes an enjoyable drinking day involves zero talking*. Occasionally I like to get a case of beer on a Sunday and play about 10 hours of a Paradox historical simulation game.

*I suppose technically after about 15 beers I sometimes start talking to my advisors/slash rival ambassadors...but that doesn't really count.
   76. catomi01 Posted: September 10, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4538272)
The thinking I've heard from Expos fans is that a CanAm League team would be something fun to take the kids to and for the baseball community to gather around. An AAA team would feel too close to being a replacement for the Expos, closing the window of opportunity.


Put that way, it makes a lot of sense...thanks for the clarification...I've been around Atlantic League clubs for most of the last decade-plus...in those offices/clubhouses the CanAm League is seen as a step down, and a landing spot for both failed players, and failing teams...I suppose that has wrongly colored my impression of the league a little too much.
   77. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 10, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4538280)
@Montreal_Expos: Expo Steve Rogers wasn’t a fan of Jarry Park: http://t.co/4PE1mpnvxC
   78. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 10, 2013 at 08:22 PM (#4538395)
When I was home in July I did notice a few Jays games were broadcast in Mandarin (or Cantonese? I forget).


It's Mandarin.

Looking that up, I came across the fact that Hockey Night In Canada in Punjabi was reinstated recently because of popular demand.

Which, of course, reminded me of this awesome collection.
(Interestingly, the BBC UK broadcast is wonderfully restrained but excited, while the France TV is absolutely off the hook.)
   79. SOLockwood Posted: September 11, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4538822)
Do they not have SAP buttons in Canada?


Wouldn't it be a FAP button?
   80. zack Posted: September 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4538862)

Which, of course, reminded me of this awesome collection.

If you had told me that Doc Emerick would be the most restrained, I never would have thought it possible. But maybe he died a little inside.

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