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The Expos: Five Years Later

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  • The Expos: Five Years Later

    At the sports journalism workshop recently held by Concordia University, there was a panel called "The Expos: Five Years Later", with Dave Van Horne, Serge Touchette, Elliott Price, and Michael Barrett. Video of the panel discussion is available on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSyCu5b_UYs

    It's a very interesting post-mortem discussion of the team.

    For Dave Van Horne fans, the Montreal Gazette recently published an interview with him:

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/sport...809/story.html

  • #2
    Great find! Thanks for sharing that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Some thoughts to get a discussion going...

      I think it would've been best if the Expos and Blue Jays shared all of Canada broadcast-wise. They would've no-doubt attracted more corporate dollars. I disagree that the Expos should be in the AL East when they return. That would just regionalize them even more, as a "Quebec version of the Blue Jays", and we'd have the same problem we had before. The Expos should promote themselves as Canada's National League team, and concentrate marketing efforts in Upstate New York and Northern New England. They'd be the only NL team for hundreds of miles. That exclusivity needs to be exploited, not thrown away. Plus, I'd like them to have their old rivalries with the Phillies and Mets, and if a realignment occurs, perhaps even the Pirates. Washington, is of course, a built-in rival, and games against them will be heated.

      The way I see it, Montreal needs to position itself to get a team in the next expansion. Move the Brewers back to the AL, and add another AL team to bring each league to 16 teams. Make sure to get the history of the team back from the Nats as well. If more money is needed to make all these things happen, then so be it. It's worth every penny. I like the idea of the tax on player salaries being used to finance a new stadium. After it's payed off, the Quebec government could use the extra money. That's one way to convince them to go along with it. Where would the new stadium be built? I really like the site they were going to build on. But condos occupy it now. Is it worth expropriating that land to build the stadium? Would area residents allow it? Is a site at the Peel Basin too far from downtown to walk to?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JaysExpos View Post
        Some thoughts to get a discussion going...

        I think it would've been best if the Expos and Blue Jays shared all of Canada broadcast-wise. They would've no-doubt attracted more corporate dollars. I disagree that the Expos should be in the AL East when they return. That would just regionalize them even more, as a "Quebec version of the Blue Jays", and we'd have the same problem we had before. The Expos should promote themselves as Canada's National League team, and concentrate marketing efforts in Upstate New York and Northern New England. They'd be the only NL team for hundreds of miles. That exclusivity needs to be exploited, not thrown away. Plus, I'd like them to have their old rivalries with the Phillies and Mets, and if a realignment occurs, perhaps even the Pirates. Washington, is of course, a built-in rival, and games against them will be heated.
        The Jays won't give up broadcast territory. They have enough problems with their revenues so they won't share.

        I agree with Barrett that they should be in the AL vs the NL. I don't think fans are married to one league over the other as in years past. Back in the 50s/60s there was more of a distinction in fans minds of AL ball vs NL ball which is why NYC was so adamant about getting an NL team after the Giants and Dodgers left. I think the rivalry with Toronto, Boston, and the Yankees (upstate NY has become Yankee territory the last 12 years since the Yankees started winning a lot). You would need at outdoor stadium or at the very least retractable dome. The question is what is your corporate support going to be like? Even Bank of Montreal isn't headquartered in Montreal anymore.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JaysExpos View Post
          I like the idea of the tax on player salaries being used to finance a new stadium. After it's payed off, the Quebec government could use the extra money. That's one way to convince them to go along with it.
          As discussed during the panel, the Quebec government had agreed, based on that logic, to providing sufficient financing to cover the interest payments on the ballpark construction, but politics intervened and the premier retracted the offer. The best time for it to come up again would probably be during stronger financial times and with a popular government in power.

          Originally posted by JaysExpos View Post
          Where would the new stadium be built? I really like the site they were going to build on. But condos occupy it now. Is it worth expropriating that land to build the stadium? Would area residents allow it? Is a site at the Peel Basin too far from downtown to walk to?
          That area is a tad far for walking, though it may be the best candidate that is vaguely near downtown. The Montreal Impact were going to build a soccer stadium in that locale, but the Quebec government offered them a good deal to build at the Olympic Park instead. There's no way the government would expropriate newly-built, expensive condos. Failing to build on that plot is the biggest lost opportunity of this saga, as there isn't any other good candidates in the downtown area.

          Jeanne Mance Park is not too far from downtown and near Molson Stadium where the Alouettes play, though it is uphill. The football club uses shuttle buses to help ferry ticket holders, but it would be different trying to get crowds for 81 games to put up with it. In addition, it's a popular green space and location of public sporting facilities (tennis, baseball, soccer), and residents would be up in arms over changes. (I also suspect that the surrounding road network might have difficulty supporting the amount of traffic that an MLB team would hope to draw.)

          The Hippodrome has closed down (U2 is actually spending $3 million to build a temporary stadium on the site for a July 2010 playdate), so it could be a possible site. It's farther away in distance from downtown than the Big O, though it is highway-accessible so (barring traffic) it's faster to reach by car (by Metro, if you can get directly on the green line then going to the Big O is faster; the Hippodrome is located near an orange line stop). However, for the longest time it's been expected that eventually a housing project would be built on the site, and with the formal bankruptcy of the current owners, the clock is ticking on a redevelopment plan.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by aqib View Post
            The Jays won't give up broadcast territory. They have enough problems with their revenues so they won't share.

            I agree with Barrett that they should be in the AL vs the NL. I don't think fans are married to one league over the other as in years past. Back in the 50s/60s there was more of a distinction in fans minds of AL ball vs NL ball which is why NYC was so adamant about getting an NL team after the Giants and Dodgers left. I think the rivalry with Toronto, Boston, and the Yankees (upstate NY has become Yankee territory the last 12 years since the Yankees started winning a lot). You would need at outdoor stadium or at the very least retractable dome. The question is what is your corporate support going to be like? Even Bank of Montreal isn't headquartered in Montreal anymore.
            If they can come to an agreement that allows the Jays to make money (say the Expos pay them a certain amount every year, or a one-time fee at the start) then it can be done. Money talks. Anything can get done if there's money to be made. Granted, an arrangement like that would dig into the Expos' pockets. But the national exposure they would get would be crucial, especially if the Jays continue to under-achieve. And this is why it makes sense for them to be in the NL. You look at any TV market that is shared, and it's always AL/NL. If the Expos were in the AL, they'd just be regionalized while the Jays would continue to have the rest of Canada (unless Vancouver were to get a team). Getting back the nation-wide fanbase that they lost is only a good thing, and it need not necessarily be at the expense of the Jays' fanbase, because baseball is unique in that many fans root for an AL team and an NL team, not so much because there is a distinction between the two leagues, but that said two teams don't normally play eachother so you could have two allegiances. This is why it wouldn't make sense to put then in the AL, because if upstate New York is Yankee territory, then adding a team to the same league will not change that. You want to take advantage of the dual-allegiance to AL/NL teams, and the Expos would be the only NL team around.

            Corporate support shouldn't be a problem. Montreal is the second-biggest city in the country and still has a sizable corporate presence. You can see how Montreal compares to other potential markets for expansion or relocation in this article. But corporate support isn't everything. You still need regular fans to show up, and although cities like Las Vegas and Charlotte are home to more Fortune 500 companies, the fan support for MLB would be questionable at best, while Montreal was proven to be able to support MLB in the 70s/80s, and until Loria ownership they weren't far from the league average.

            Originally posted by tinseltown View Post
            As discussed during the panel, the Quebec government had agreed, based on that logic, to providing sufficient financing to cover the interest payments on the ballpark construction, but politics intervened and the premier retracted the offer. The best time for it to come up again would probably be during stronger financial times and with a popular government in power.

            That area is a tad far for walking, though it may be the best candidate that is vaguely near downtown. The Montreal Impact were going to build a soccer stadium in that locale, but the Quebec government offered them a good deal to build at the Olympic Park instead. There's no way the government would expropriate newly-built, expensive condos. Failing to build on that plot is the biggest lost opportunity of this saga, as there isn't any other good candidates in the downtown area.

            Jeanne Mance Park is not too far from downtown and near Molson Stadium where the Alouettes play, though it is uphill. The football club uses shuttle buses to help ferry ticket holders, but it would be different trying to get crowds for 81 games to put up with it. In addition, it's a popular green space and location of public sporting facilities (tennis, baseball, soccer), and residents would be up in arms over changes. (I also suspect that the surrounding road network might have difficulty supporting the amount of traffic that an MLB team would hope to draw.)

            The Hippodrome has closed down (U2 is actually spending $3 million to build a temporary stadium on the site for a July 2010 playdate), so it could be a possible site. It's farther away in distance from downtown than the Big O, though it is highway-accessible so (barring traffic) it's faster to reach by car (by Metro, if you can get directly on the green line then going to the Big O is faster; the Hippodrome is located near an orange line stop). However, for the longest time it's been expected that eventually a housing project would be built on the site, and with the formal bankruptcy of the current owners, the clock is ticking on a redevelopment plan.
            Hippodrome doesn't strike me as a very good site. Commuter rail access isn't good. And the area around Molson Stadium couldn't handle the crowds, nor do I think we should destroy parkland. If a new tennis centre is built, a baseball stadium could be built at Jarry Park, but again, that's taking away parkland, and the location isn't the best either.

            I like the idea of building at Peel Basin, with a view of the water/skyline and opportunity for home runs to land in the water ala San Fran/Pittsburgh, or Jarry Park, with that pool. As big of a failure as it was to not build on the site near the Molson Centre where the condos are now, it opened up another opportunity.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JaysExpos View Post
              Hippodrome doesn't strike me as a very good site. Commuter rail access isn't good. And the area around Molson Stadium couldn't handle the crowds, nor do I think we should destroy parkland. If a new tennis centre is built, a baseball stadium could be built at Jarry Park, but again, that's taking away parkland, and the location isn't the best either.

              I like the idea of building at Peel Basin, with a view of the water/skyline and opportunity for home runs to land in the water ala San Fran/Pittsburgh, or Jarry Park, with that pool. As big of a failure as it was to not build on the site near the Molson Centre where the condos are now, it opened up another opportunity.
              Agreed that the other sites aren't that suitable, which is why I said the Peel Basin area may be the best choice. Commuter rail access isn't nearly as important as Metro and car access; car access to the area is good but a new bus line or shuttles would have to be set up for Metro access.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JaysExpos View Post
                If they can come to an agreement that allows the Jays to make money (say the Expos pay them a certain amount every year, or a one-time fee at the start) then it can be done. Money talks. Anything can get done if there's money to be made. Granted, an arrangement like that would dig into the Expos' pockets. But the national exposure they would get would be crucial, especially if the Jays continue to under-achieve. And this is why it makes sense for them to be in the NL. You look at any TV market that is shared, and it's always AL/NL. If the Expos were in the AL, they'd just be regionalized while the Jays would continue to have the rest of Canada (unless Vancouver were to get a team). Getting back the nation-wide fanbase that they lost is only a good thing, and it need not necessarily be at the expense of the Jays' fanbase, because baseball is unique in that many fans root for an AL team and an NL team, not so much because there is a distinction between the two leagues, but that said two teams don't normally play eachother so you could have two allegiances. This is why it wouldn't make sense to put then in the AL, because if upstate New York is Yankee territory, then adding a team to the same league will not change that. You want to take advantage of the dual-allegiance to AL/NL teams, and the Expos would be the only NL team around.

                Corporate support shouldn't be a problem. Montreal is the second-biggest city in the country and still has a sizable corporate presence. You can see how Montreal compares to other potential markets for expansion or relocation in this article. But corporate support isn't everything. You still need regular fans to show up, and although cities like Las Vegas and Charlotte are home to more Fortune 500 companies, the fan support for MLB would be questionable at best, while Montreal was proven to be able to support MLB in the 70s/80s, and until Loria ownership they weren't far from the league average.
                The problem with Vegas and Charlotte is that for the most part the population growth is due to people moving from places that have teams and people don't change allegences. Think the NHLs idiotic southern expansion. I can't see the Jays with all their problems giving up broadcast territory to anyone else.

                As for upstate NY being Yankee territory, thats the idea. Yankee and Red Sox fans making the treck to Montreal and filling the park, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by aqib View Post
                  As for upstate NY being Yankee territory, thats the idea. Yankee and Red Sox fans making the treck to Montreal and filling the park, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, etc.
                  You don't just want Yankee and Red Sox fans to come to town when their favourite teams are playing; you want to build up allegiances to the closest MLB team around to help with attendance for 81 games. That being said, in the current environment with ubiquitous cable, satellite, and Internet access allowing you to follow any team anywhere, and the Expos neglect of this area over its last decade, it would be a challenge to regain support in upstate New York (but one that any prospective club ought to undertake to improve its chances at success).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One thing to bear in mind in the AL vs. NL debate. is that the three economically strongest teams -- or at least the three biggest markets -- of the AL East are all in a kind of triangle around Montreal. Boston to the East, Toronto to the West, New York to the South. And they're all about the same distance away -- one day's drive or a short flight depending on your means and the price of gas. And the smallest market of the three (Boston, yes I said Boston, take a look at the population of Toronto if you don't believe me) is the one that's the best exploited, and there's a special Montreal-Boston relationship that will help there. And who can deny that a French Canadian vs. English Canadian dynamic wouldn't help forge an instant division rivalry between Montreal and Toronto? Who knows, that might even help both teams at the gate after a few yeas.

                    In the NL East the three biggest markets were New York, Philly and Atlanta, That's quite a bit further away, making it harder to develop rivalries. In other words, a Montreal Expos team that returned and was in the National League would be in a situation not unlike the Tampa Bay Rays, where the major economic centers of the division are a ways away and you have to built a fanbase without a lot of outside support -- a large task that the Rays have performed adequately and the Expos, in their last few seasons, did much less well.

                    Not only is having the other big market teams relatively near your own a good thing because of the fans-from-away-filling-the-park thing, but it's good for developing rivalries. Just like the Bell Centre fills better and faster when the Bruins, say, are in town, and the Boston Gaaaaaahhhhhhden fills faster when Les Habs are on the ticket, it will also draw LOCAL fans in larger numbers, especially if there's a decent product on the field in Montreal, one that has a chance to WIN some of those rivalry games.
                    Last edited by Imgran; 12-21-2009, 06:04 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tinseltown View Post
                      You don't just want Yankee and Red Sox fans to come to town when their favourite teams are playing; you want to build up allegiances to the closest MLB team around to help with attendance for 81 games. That being said, in the current environment with ubiquitous cable, satellite, and Internet access allowing you to follow any team anywhere, and the Expos neglect of this area over its last decade, it would be a challenge to regain support in upstate New York (but one that any prospective club ought to undertake to improve its chances at success).
                      Well in the first few years you probably need the rival fans in order to assure ticket sales. Plus when you are thinking of the economic impact, Sox and Yankee fans will generate a lot of activity when they drive in and spend money in hotels and restaurants. That may also be another source of tax revenue beyond just player salaries with which to finance the stadium. If New Expos have a $50 million payroll @ 8% you are looking at $4 million a year of player payroll tax it would take more to finance a stadium, so if you used sales taxes for a 2KM radius around the park and a bed tax from hotels on games, that would get you there.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with the sentiment that Montreal should move to the east with New York, Boston and Toronto. If MLB expands and the AL gets two teams one should definitely be in Montreal. An AL East of New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto would be fantastic IMO.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Rays and Orioles fans, should they speculatively exist, hate you now.

                          I've said for awhile that I feel that this division structure is optimized for 36 teams. There's plenty of room for expansion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Imgran View Post
                            Rays and Orioles fans, should they speculatively exist, hate you now.

                            I've said for awhile that I feel that this division structure is optimized for 36 teams. There's plenty of room for expansion.
                            If you go with a 32 team MLB you move the Marlins to the AL and they join the Rays, Orioles, and ROyals in the AL South. Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and the Yankees are in the East. Cleveland, Chicago, Detoit, Minnesota are in the Central and the West stays LA, Texas, Seattle, and The A's (in either Oakland or Portland). I put the other expansion team in Brooklyn and put it in the NL.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by aqib View Post
                              Well in the first few years you probably need the rival fans in order to assure ticket sales. Plus when you are thinking of the economic impact, Sox and Yankee fans will generate a lot of activity when they drive in and spend money in hotels and restaurants.
                              Yes, I fully understood your previous statement. However, good attendance when three of the teams in the league are in town aren't enough to build a franchise around. Under the right economic conditions and with the right marketing plan, I do believe the Montreal market can stand on its own.

                              Regarding the Boston-Montreal rivalry, well, it isn't what it used to be, and "selling out the Bell Centre faster" is really a relative thing anyway -- home games sell out regardless of opponent.

                              Comment

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