After three straight springs of major crowds at Olympic Stadium, the Toronto Blue Jays will once again play spring training games in Montreal. In 2017, the Blue Jays will host the Pittsburgh Pirates in a two-game series beginning on Friday, March 31.
These annual games have represented the first major league action at Olympic Stadium since the departure of the Montreal Expos after the 2004 season. As noted on our sister site, Spring Training Online, the games are certainly resonating with fans in Montreal:
These Montreal spring games are a hot ticket, drawing huge crowds to Olympic Stadium, former home of the Montreal Expos. Yeah, the ballpark isn’t the greatest, but these Montreal spring games are a great experience: the Expos are beloved, so there’s nostalgia for the days of Steve Rogers and Andre Dawson combined with a modern party atmosphere. In 2016, over 106,000 fans were at Olympic Stadium for the two-game set against the Boston Red Sox. They are scheduled for Friday, March 31, at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday, April 1, at 1:05 p.m.
Olympic Stadium was not the most beloved facility in its day, but the annual arrival of the Blue Jays has prompted both fond memories of the Expos and talks of the eventually attracting another team. There are a lot issues that will need to be resolved in order for Montreal to regain a franchise–including ownership, a new ballpark, and a timetable from MLB–but certainly the annual appearances by the Blue Jays have given Montreal a second life in baseball, and help to fuel talks of what developments could be around the corner.