Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bring back the Expos

Montreal fans trek to Toronto to make case

  • Print

MONTREAL -- A crew of Montreal baseball lovers appears willing to do just about anything to get their team back, even if it means driving to Toronto to watch the Blue Jays.

They weren't necessarily cheering for the home team.

Organizers say about 1,000 Expos fans, hoping to attract the attention of major league baseball's movers and shakers, packed into the outfield bleachers at the Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon.

The group wore the defunct club's traditional red, white and baby blue and held up signs promoting their cause.

"Our goal is to celebrate the history of the Expos and show that there is still a viable market for it," said Matthew Ross, who runs the website Expos Nation and helped organize the trip.

"We do everything we can to drum up nostalgia for the team and at the same time focus on the future."

About 200 people made a similar trek to Toronto last season.

This year, the group was able to get a former player, Bill Atkinson, and manager, Jim Fanning, to attend.

Nearly a decade after the Expos left town, there's a small but growing movement to bring a team back to the city.

The possibility has become a recurring topic on local talk radio and has even had an impact on Montreal street fashion.

The team's logo is now a source of city pride and a statement for young people barely old enough to have seen them play.

Ross said the pain of the Expos' 2004 messy departure has begun to dissipate.

These days, people are more focused on joyful memories, and the team's greats, like Andre Dawson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010, he said.

The Montreal Baseball Project, a group founded a year-and-a-half ago by former Expo Warren Cromartie, has become a focal point for the renewed interest in the team.

At events around the city over the past few months, Cromartie has made his sales pitch for bringing back baseball.

"The slogan that I put out there, that I want to continue to put out there, is: 'Montreal wants baseball back,"' Cromartie said in an interview.

Cromartie pointed to the death of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, a fan favourite when he played at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, as a key rallying point.

Last summer, several former Expos returned to Montreal to pay tribute to Carter and meet with fans. A Montreal street was named after him earlier this year.

Cromartie said the revival of the Canadian dollar, more television revenue, the advent of social media and increased revenue sharing in baseball make a team in Montreal a realistic possibility.

His group has about $400,000 from the Montreal Board of Trade and private business partners to explore the possibility of bringing a team back.

A feasibility study in the works could be ready by September, he said.

Even if it doesn't happen anytime soon, Ross believes the city is a viable baseball market under the right circumstances.

It's no accident the group chose to attend a game featuring the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the league's more troubled franchises, he said.

In the past few years the team has been rumoured to be on the move and the team's owner recently mused that Montreal was a good baseball market.

When asked whether he believed the Expos would ever return, Ross, 35, said it would be "very difficult and very tough."

"That doesn't mean that we can't stir the pot a little bit," he said.

That strategy appeared to work on Saturday.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2013 B6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Tim Campbell on the Jets' inconsistency - Jets This Week Oct. 16

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Winnipeg Free Press 090528 STAND UP...(Weather) One to oversee the pecking order, a pack of pelican's fishes the eddies under the Red River control structure at Lockport Thursday morning......
  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google