The Toronto Blue Jays will continue their tradition of annual spring-training games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium next March, when they host the New York Yankees in a two-game series.
Annual spring-training exhibitions have become a major event at Olympic Stadium, the home of the Montreal Expos from 1977-2004, before the franchise relocated to Washington. The tradition will extend into its seventh-consecutive spring next year, when the Blue Jays return to host the Yankees for a two-game set that includes contests on Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24.
Those games will carry some intrigue, given that this will mark the first time that the Yankees visit Montreal for an exhibition against the Blue Jays. Among the prior opponents that have come to Montreal to square off against the Blue Jays include the New York Mets (2014), Cincinnati Reds (2015), Boston Red Sox (2016), Pittsburgh Pirates (2017), St. Louis Cardinals (2018), and Milwaukee Brewers (2019).
“We are excited to return to Montreal once again to celebrate the city’s rich baseball history and tradition,” Toronto president and CEO Mark Shapiro said in a press statement. “Getting the privilege to play at Olympic Stadium in front of thousands of passionate baseball fans always reminds us of how honored we are to represent Canadians from coast to coast.”
As we noted during our 2017 visit to Olympic Stadium, the games have helped foster nostalgia for the Expos while publicly raising Montreal’s profile when it comes to potentially landing another MLB squad in the future. Discussions continue about the potential for a new Montreal ballpark, as a group led by businessman Stephen Bronfman—son of original Expos owner Charles Bronfman—has been making the rounds with local officials to pitch a redevelopment at the city’s Peel Basin that would include a new MLB facility.
Earlier this year, MLB granted the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore a split-season arrangement that would include new ballparks in the Montreal and Tampa Bay markets. For now, there are still plenty of questions about the prospects of a new Montreal ballpark and MLB team. It remains to be seen if the proposal will gain the traction it needs politically, and plenty of obstacles would have to be overcome to make the proposed split-season arrangement a reality–something that Bronfman acknowledged earlier this year while describing it as an important step to bring MLB back to Montreal. Time will tell how those discussions unfold between now and next March but expect the games at Olympic Stadium to generate a buzz in Montreal either way.
Photo from 2017 Olympic Stadium exhibition by Zach Spedden.
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