Enthusiasm for baseball has reached a fever pitch in Canada with the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2016 playoff adventure beginning (and possibly ending) Tuesday. It’s an exciting time for fans in Toronto and across the country and encouraging news for fans hoping to see Major League Baseball return to Montreal one day in the future.
“The most important development with respect to Montreal is the tremendous success that baseball has had in Toronto to be honest,” commissioner Rob Manfred told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday. “Toronto is one of our real bright spots right now. Amazing attendance up there this year, great television performance, all of the measures of fan [support] really across Canada for the Blue Jays are unbelievable. I think that shows the fundamentals of baseball in Canada are really good.
“I have said I do think Montreal could be a major league city. I think the issue for us right now is we need to get [a new the collective bargaining agreement] and our situations in Tampa and Oakland behind us.”
Manfred said back in May that Montreal and Mexico City were his two personal frontrunners for MLB expansion teams.
The Blue Jays have played two exhibition games in front of sold-out crowds at Olympic Stadium each of the last three years, showing there’s a growing appetite for baseball to return to la belle province. The Montreal Expos were around from 1969-2004 before low attendance, ineffective ownership and an outdated stadium ultimately led to the franchise relocating to Washington for the 2005 season.
“I would love to have Montreal available as a potential expansion location,” Manfred added. “I think 32 teams would help us. I think another team in Canada would help us. I remain positive on that prospect.”