New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will conduct a meeting with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre on May 28 to discuss the possibility of once again having a professional baseball franchise call that city of Montreal home. That has not been the case since the Expos left for Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals in 2005.
Coderre said that “we will show Mr. Manfred our love for the sport. I don’t want to negotiate openly, but we’ll clearly talk about Montreal. We need a plan. We need a step-by-step approach. You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”
Over the Expos’ final seven seasons in Montreal, in which they called Olympic Stadium home, the team never drew 1 million fans in total attendance. The city did, however, draw nearly 100,000 people for a pair of exhibition games in 2014 as well as 2015, giving fans at least a glimmer of hope that baseball could one day return to the city of Montreal.
At this point, talks are strictly in the preliminary stage. We don’t know Manfred’s plans to add an expansion team to any city, let alone Montreal, and whether or not he and the owners would be more inclined to add a new team, or simply look to relocate an existing club.
While relocation is not being discussed, I could see the following five teams as being the most logical candidates to head north. I am not saying that any of them are even possibilities, but they are the five that could make the most sense.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – One of the lowest attendance percentage numbers in the National League, things haven’t been great in the desert for quite some time now. Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez aren’t walking through the dugout and, things have been fairly inconsistent on and off the field.
4. Oakland Athletics – Of the five, perhaps the biggest disappointment. The A’s put out a competitive team with a low payroll almost seemingly every season. This is a team who should have more fans show up to their home games. They don’t.
3. Cleveland Indians – This may be the biggest long-shot, simply due to the history of the game but, the Indians just don’t draw. Through the first quarter of the 2015 season, Cleveland has the lowest average attendance. It also has – by far – the lowest percentage of paid attendance, in comparison to the capacity of the stadium.
2. Miami Marlins – Yes, they have a new stadium. Unfortunately, all this has done it disprove the theory from Field of Dreams. Sure, they were able to it. But nobody has come. Not even a new stadium that Jeffrey Loria was able to fleece taxpayers into funding should prevent the Marlins from becoming a relocation candidate.
1. Tampa Bay Rays – This one makes the most sense to me. Give it up, Florida. Residents and tourists simply don’t care enough to pay to come to watch professional baseball in the state of Florida. It will never change. Move the Rays now. I don’t care if they go to Montreal, Charlotte, Virginia or just contract. It doesn’t matter.