On Thursday, Major League Baseball’s impatience with Tampa Bay’s stadium situation was noted in this space and many others, with the Commissioner’s Office’s stern words causing TSN’s Scott Ferguson to fantasize, “A winning Tampa team could move to Montreal and slide right into the American League East as a tremendous rival for the Blue Jays (“with a new baseball-first stadium and committed ownership, the new Expos might have a chance.”)
In their 36-year history, Montreal had a peak attendance of just over 2.3 million in 1983. They had a five-year glory run where they were one of the top teams in baseball where they drew over two million in four of those five seasons. It would have been all five if not for the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. The point being there were numerous other years where the attendance figures were every bit as bad as the Rays, if not worse at times.
Part of the problem was playing in relatively small Jarry Park, and then moving to an oversized, out of the way, less intimate Big “O”. The fans in Montreal were more boisterous and emotional than most I’ve seen in the Majors. They just seemed to grow weary of the ownership circus and not having a proper baseball facility.
If the Commissioner is making a veiled threat to move the Rays, then here’s hoping Montreal becomes the target city.