Baseball is back in Montreal! Well…sorta. According to a report by Shi Davidi of SportsNet, the Toronto Blue Jays will close out their 2014 Spring Training schedule with two games against the New York Mets at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, the former home of the Expos. These two contests will mark the first two baseball games at Stade Olympique since the Expos moved south to Washington DC after the 2004 season and became the Nationals.
As Davidi mentions in his article, having two games in Montreal helps the Blue Jays' branding as Canada's MLB team. Many teams stage showcase games away from their Spring Training homes before the beginning of the regular season, and at the very least, it gives fans that can't make it to Florida or Arizona a unique and affordable chance to see their team before the season begins. Why not stage a couple of games in Montreal before the season starts in an attempt to expand the influence of the Blue Jays to Quebec?
It's not like the Blue Jays are toying with a full-time move to the eastern province. This isn't the Expos playing 25% of their home games in Puerto Rico. This is a marketing tool that's being used to build the Blue Jays' fanbase more, and trying to rationalize it as anything else is just silly. It's something that's been in the works since at least 2011, and there's even a chance (albeit a slim one) that Montreal could fall in love with baseball all over again and make the push for an expansion or relocated MLB team.