Montreal has not had a Major League Baseball team since the Expos became the Nationals and moved to Washington D.C. in 2005. That was a long time ago – more than a decade.
But if you think MLB won’t ever return to Montreal, well, let’s just say it’s not off the table.
“Rob Manfred has indicated that they’re interested, so don’t take it from a homer like me; take it from the commissioner of baseball,” former Expos fan and CBSSports.com MLB writer Jonah Keri said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “He’s definitely talked about it being a viable candidate, whether it’s for expansion or relocation. Some of that is definitely a little bit of a show game. I won’t deny that. I think when you’ve got a bad stadium situation in two different cities in St. Petersburg and in Oakland, that creates an incentive for MLB to try to pressure teams a little bit. If it means saying, ‘Hey, look, we got Montreal over here, you better get yourself together and give us money, otherwise we’re going to move,’ I get it. That’s happened before with many different cities. But I do think some of that is genuine.”
“I mean, frankly, Manfred, whether or not he’s using it as a tool or a means to an end, could have said Portland or Vegas or Charlotte or Mexico City or what have you, and Montreal has been the one that keeps coming up at the top of the list,” Keri continued, “and for good reason. It’s the No. 15 metro market in North America, a very large city with about three million people, there’s obviously a history of baseball there and there were very, very good years. In ’82 and ’83, the Expos outdrew the New York Yankees. So there are situations in which it could work, but there’s obstacles of course.”
Those obstacles include having capable and willing local investors, MLB allowing relocation or expansion – which, if it’s the latter, would require a 32nd team – and getting support from owners.
“You need all kinds of factors to fall into place,” Keri said. “I think it’s one of those things where if you’d asked me five years ago, do I think it’s possible, I would have said, ‘There’s no way this is ever happening. Baseball is dead and buried in Montreal.’ Now if you’d ask me, I’d say, ‘I think it’s going to happen. I don’t think it’s going to happen today or tomorrow, but I think if you go down the road a little bit, I do think there are some possibilities.’”