Montreal Swings for a New Baseball Team

A decade after losing the Expos to Washington, D.C., Montreal is aiming to flip the script. In a press conference in Cincinnati before the All-Star Game, new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned the Canadian hot spot as a potential home for a new team. Montreal; Charlotte; San Antonio; Portland, Oregon; Las Vegas; Oklahoma City; northern New Jersey; and Mexico City or Monterrey, Mexico, are among the contenders should MLB decide to expand. The cities could also be in the running if a team like the Tampa Bay Rays or Oakland Athletics relocates because of stadium issues. Manfred gave no indication of a timetable for relocation or expansion. ESPN reports Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has already pitched the idea of baseball’s return to Manfred, who appears eager for the league to expand for the first time since Arizona and Tampa Bay were awarded teams in 1998. Manfred said Montreal would need a new facility to replace Olympic Stadium, which housed the Expos from 1977 to 2004. Montreal hosted two successful exhibition games in consecutive years, which could signal strong support for a team. There is a precedent for a market victimized to relocation to become of baseball’s best—ironically in Washington. The nation’s capital lost two teams, in 1961 and 1971, and did not have another pro baseball squad until the Expos moved in time for the 2005 season. After some lean years at RFK Stadium, the team has thrived at Nationals Park, reaching the playoffs twice in three years, and was awarded the 2018 All-Star Game. Attendance has matched the rise in on-the-field success.