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La gaugauche et les bobos, présentement au pouvoir à Montréal, rêvent que Montréal soit une ville de foot.  Culturellement, le baseball est beaucoup trop nord-américain pour eux.  De plus ils voient l

Patrick Lagace is one of those inertia loving journalist in the Quebec media. Wish we would all rally around the huge opportunity this is for our city and our economy.  and that Quebec businessme

Why Major League Baseball Makes More Sense In Montreal Than Tampa Or Miami: https://www.forbes.com/sites/prishe/2019/06/21/why-major-league-baseball-makes-more-sense-in-montreal-than-tampa-or-mia

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The article brings up some valid points, however this is only relevant in the case of a publicly financed stadium. If it’s privately financed (or mainly privately financed) then this is no different from any private investment in entertainment or any other business. 

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10 hours ago, Exposteve said:

The article brings up some valid points, however this is only relevant in the case of a publicly financed stadium. If it’s privately financed (or mainly privately financed) then this is no different from any private investment in entertainment or any other business. 

Exacte, l'article aurait pu être autrement mieux orienté et d'actualité.

Avec les Rays à MTL on aurait 47% des parties locales contre les Jays, les Yankees ou les Red Sox. Et suffit de visiter ces stades l'été pour se rendre compte à quel point les amateurs Québécois vont dépenser de l'argent ailleurs pour voir du baseball. En 2016 un v-p des Jays avait parlé d'une pointe de 5000 billets achetés par des Québécois pour un match à Toronto. Il est difficile d'argumenter que Rays à MTL ne généreraient pas bien plus que 5% de spectateurs de l'extérieur par match et que les amateurs Québécois auraient un plus grand budget pour aller voir du baseball ailleurs qu'au Québec qu'ils le font maintenant.

Sans parler des impôts des 150 millions+ de masse salariale pour les joueurs et employés qui viendront de l'extérieur du Québec d'avril à octobre. Même s'ils n'ont pas leur résidence principale ici, qu'ils passent beaucoup de temps sur la route et qu'ils mettent le maximum de leur salaire dans un "REER spécial", ils finiront par payer au minimum environ 20% d'impôt au Canada... Et on parle aussi notamment de revitaliser un secteur stratégique de la ville. 

L'étude de 2013 d'Ernst & Young était bien entendu une commande stratégique pour vendre le projet mais on parle quand même d'un projet mené par des Montréalais qui emmènerait une création de richesse directe de dizaines de millions annuellement et dont les gouvernements sont encore bien placés pour ne pas leur signer un chèque et leur donner des crédits comme on l'a vu ailleurs.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Pour ceux qui en doutent encore de la stratégie des Rays. Les avocats de Sternberg s'arrangent pour se sortir du Use Agreement de la facon anticipée; le terrain du Tropicana Field se doit d'être développé bien avant la fin de 2027 et ils ne paieront jamais pour un utopique concept d'équipe en garde partagée. Les prochains développements à MTL devraient être en mars avec le dévoilement du rapport de l'OPCM et les matchs Jays-Yankees...

https://www.tampabay.com/news/st-petersburg/2020/01/30/hardball-rays-threaten-to-block-redevelopment-of-tropicana-field/

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https://ici.radio-canada.ca/sports/1509792/expos-montreal-tampa-rays-garde-partage-mlb-robert-manfred

Le baseball majeur « convaincu à 100 % » par une garde partagée Montréal-Tampa

rob-manfred-stuart-sternberg.jpg
Rob Manfred (gauche) et Stuart Sternberg (droite)
PHOTO : LA PRESSE CANADIENNE / CHRIS O'MEARA

La Presse canadienne
15 h 48 | Mis à jour à  16 h 07

Les dirigeants et propriétaires d'équipes du baseball majeur voient maintenant le projet de villes-sœurs mis de l'avant par Stephen Bronfman pour partager les Rays de Tampa Bay avec la ville de Montréal comme la meilleure façon de garder une équipe dans la région de Tampa.

C'est ce qu'a rapporté jeudi le Tampa Bay Times, qui assiste cette semaine aux réunions des propriétaires d'équipes de la MLB à Orlando, en Floride.

« Les gens continuent de croire que cette option de villes-sœurs est viable et pourrait être une très bonne solution pour garder le baseball à Tampa Bay », a affirmé le commissaire Rob Manfred au quotidien de la Floride.

« Je continue d'être impressionné par l'énergie qu'ils ont déployée sur ce projet, qui est très bien reçu par notre groupe. Certains en sont même excités », a-t-il poursuivi.

Le propriétaire majoritaire des Rays, Stuart Sternberg, aurait fait une présentation qui aurait eu une forte impression sur les propriétaires.

« Je suis convaincu à 100 %, mais encore plus important, les autres propriétaires ont été convaincus par Stu, que c'est la meilleure façon de garder le baseball à Tampa Bay », a affirmé Manfred.

Le commissaire a indiqué qu'il demeurait ouvert à la possibilité que les Rays puissent obtenir un nouveau stade pour demeurer à temps plein dans la région, mais qu'il s'en remet au jugement de Sternberg et des autres dirigeants des Rays.

Il ajoute qu'il serait injuste de penser que deux projets aussi différents puissent être menés de front et que présentement, « l'attention est tournée vers l'option des villes-sœurs ».

Plusieurs propriétaires et dirigeants d'équipes ont refusé les demandes d'entrevues du Tampa Bay Times, mais le président des Blue Jays de Toronto, Mark Shapiro, a déclaré que la seule équipe en sol canadien est ouverte à l'idée que les Rays les y rejoignent.

« Nous sommes favorables à ce qu'ils étudient cette option et nous sommes intéressés de voir comment tout ça va se conclure, a-t-il dit. Nous sommes sans aucun doute en faveur de tout ce qui pourrait avoir un impact positif sur le paysage du baseball au Canada. [...] Il y a des arguments des deux côtés : c'est agréable d'être le seul club au Canada, mais ce serait bien qu'il y ait un plus grand intérêt également. »

Le Times rapporte que l'Association des joueurs pourrait avoir de fortes objections envers ce projet, qui exigerait des joueurs, des entraîneurs, du personnel et des dirigeants, ainsi que leurs familles qu'ils déménagent en plein cœur de la saison. Manfred admet qu'il y aura sûrement quelques problèmes avec le syndicat, « mais rien d'insurmontable ».

Le plan mis de l'avant par Bronfman et divulgué en juin dernier repose sur la construction de stades à ciel ouvert à Montréal et Tampa ou St. Petersburg. À Montréal, le Groupe de Montréal attend le rapport de l'Office de consultation publique de Montréal sur son projet de revitalisation du bassin Peel, où serait construit un éventuel stade de baseball. Le rapport doit paraître dans les prochaines semaines.

Bronfman et Sternberg avaient évoqué en juin qu'ils aimeraient disputer une première saison partagée en 2024, mais un obstacle de taille se dresse devant les deux hommes d'affaires : la ville de St. Petersburg refuse que les Rays jouent des matchs locaux ailleurs qu'au Tropicana Field d'ici la fin de leur bail, à la conclusion de la saison 2027.

C'est ce qu'avait annoncé le maire de St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman, en décembre dernier.

Dans cette conjoncture, le projet de villes-sœurs ne pourrait voir le jour avant 2028.

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15:27 6 février 2020

Par : Frédéric DaigleLa Presse canadienne

https://journalmetro.com/sports/2418049/rob-manfred-tampa-bay-appuie-sans-reserve-le-projet-de-villes-soeurs-st-pete-montreal/

Rob Manfred appuie sans réserve le projet de villes-soeurs St. Pete-Montréal

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesRob Manfred

MONTRÉAL — Stephen Bronfman a reçu un nouvel appui de taille pour son projet de villes-soeurs entre St. Petersburg et Montréal pour les Rays de Tampa Bay de la part du commissaire du Baseball majeur, Rob Manfred.

À la conclusion d’une réunion des propriétaires d’équipes de la MLB à Orlando, Manfred a affirmé que ces propriétaires et lui estiment qu’il s’agit de la meilleure option pour garder une équipe dans la région de la baie de Tampa, même si ce n’est qu’à mi-temps.

«C’est très positif, a réagi Stephen Bronfman lorsque rejoint par La Presse canadienne. Chaque fois qu’on parle en bien de notre projet, c’est positif. Et il ne faut pas oublier que dans ce dossier, notre meilleur vendeur, c’est le commissaire.»

«Les gens continuent de croire que cette option de villes-soeurs est viable et pourrait être une très bonne solution pour garder le baseball à Tampa Bay, a affirmé le commissaire au Tampa Bay Times. Je continue d’être impressionné par l’énergie qu’ils ont déployée sur ce projet, qui est très bien reçu par notre groupe. Certains en sont même excités.»

Bronfman, qui n’a pas assisté aux réunions des propriétaires, n’est pas surpris de l’appui de ces derniers.

«Ce n’est pas nouveau: quand le commissaire a donné son approbation (au projet) en juin, c’était à la suite d’une recommandation du comité exécutif du baseball, où siègent environ le tiers des propriétaires d’équipe, a-t-il expliqué. Quand le comité exécutif appuie un projet, toutes les équipes l’appuient. C’était le coup de pouce dont nous avions besoin pour explorer ce projet de façon officielle.

«Maintenant, on fait notre travail pour mettre en chiffres tout ce dont nous avons parlé. (…) Ça prendra quelques mois, mais nous allons présenter plus tard cette année au Baseball majeur nos conclusions.»

Jeudi, à Orlando, le propriétaire majoritaire des Rays, Stuart Sternberg, a fait une présentation qui a laissé une forte impression sur les propriétaires.

«Je suis convaincu à 100 pour cent, mais encore plus important, les autres propriétaires ont été convaincus par Stu, que c’est la meilleure façon de garder le baseball à Tampa Bay», a affirmé Manfred au Times.

Manfred souhaite voir ce dossier se régler plus tôt que tard, mais il reste tout de même plusieurs obstacles à franchir.

«Nous sommes proactifs, mais c’est vrai, nous n’avons pas encore de terrain, a admis Bronfman. Mais on a un plan et de bonnes relations avec la ville. (…) Dans toute cette aventure, nous avons beaucoup de questions toujours sans réponses, mais nos intentions sont bonnes avec un plan très solide. Toutes les pièces doivent toutefois tomber en place.»

Le Groupe de Montréal, dont Bronfman est le fer-de-lance, attend le rapport de l’Office de consultation publique de Montréal sur son projet de revitalisation du bassin Peel, où serait construit un éventuel stade de baseball. Le rapport doit paraître dans les prochaines semaines.

Un autre obstacle important se trouve du côté de St. Petersburg, où le maire, Rick Kriseman, refuse que les Rays jouent des matchs locaux ailleurs qu’au Tropicana Field d’ici la fin de leur bail, à la conclusion de la saison 2027. Dans cette conjoncture, le projet de villes-soeurs ne pourrait voir le jour avant 2028.

«C’est un jeu politique, a argué Bronfman. C’est normal. Il y a toujours des options. On aimerait travailler avec (St. Pete), mais on peut travailler avec d’autres partenaires dans la région. C’est une grande partie d’échecs et ce n’est pas le premier obstacle que nous avons à franchir, ni le dernier. Ce n’est pas un projet facile, il y a plusieurs défis à relever, mais tous les intervenants autour de la table sont passionnés et sont engagés à 100 pour cent. Nous avons un plan solide, qui a beaucoup de sens. Il y a toutefois plusieurs variables que nous ne contrôlons pas.»

Bronfman estime d’ailleurs que 2020 sera une année charnière pour ce projet.

«Ce sera notre année. On a beaucoup parlé, maintenant c’est le temps de passer à l’action. Avec le commissaire et les propriétaires de notre côté, le travail de représentation va bientôt commencer.»

Manfred a indiqué qu’il demeurait ouvert à la possibilité que les Rays puissent obtenir un nouveau stade pour demeurer à temps plein dans la région, mais qu’il s’en remet au jugement de Sternberg et des autres dirigeants des Rays. Il ajoute qu’il serait injuste de penser que deux projets aussi différents puissent être menés de front et que présentement, «l’attention est tournée vers l’option des villes-soeurs».

Ouverture à Toronto

Plusieurs propriétaires et dirigeants d’équipes ont refusé les demandes d’entrevues du Tampa Bay Times, mais le président des Blue Jays de Toronto, Mark Shapiro, a déclaré que la seule équipe en sol canadien est ouverte à l’idée que les Rays les y rejoignent.

«Nous sommes favorables à ce qu’ils étudient cette option et nous sommes intéressés de voir comment tout ça va se conclure, a-t-il dit. Nous sommes sans aucun doute en faveur de ce qui pourrait avoir un impact positif sur le paysage du baseball au Canada. (…) Il y a des arguments des deux côtés: c’est agréable d’être le seul club au Canada, mais ce serait bien qu’il y ait un plus grand intérêt également.»

Le Times rapporte aussi que l’Association des joueurs pourrait avoir de fortes objections envers ce projet, qui exigerait des joueurs, des entraîneurs, du personnel et des dirigeants — ainsi que leur famille — qu’ils déménagent en plein coeur de la saison. Manfred admet qu’il y aura sûrement quelques problèmes avec le syndicat, «mais rien d’insurmontable».

«Je ne suis jamais frustré par les éléments que je ne contrôle pas, a conclu Bronfman. Ça ne donne rien de perdre son temps là-dessus ou de se stresser avec ça. Quand ces éléments tombent en place, c’est parfait et on passe au prochain point. Ce serait super de boucler ce projet bientôt. Mais on veut un projet viable avec toutes les approbations nécessaires.»

Frédéric Daigle, La Presse canadienne

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Il y a 4 heures, acpnc a dit :

15:27 6 février 2020

Par : Frédéric DaigleLa Presse canadienne

https://journalmetro.com/sports/2418049/rob-manfred-tampa-bay-appuie-sans-reserve-le-projet-de-villes-soeurs-st-pete-montreal/

Rob Manfred appuie sans réserve le projet de villes-soeurs St. Pete-Montréal

Merci pour avoir cité cet article.

Une fois de plus, je ne comprends pas pourquoi quelqu'un donnerait un vote négatif à un élément d'information pertinente.  Est-il si difficile de faire la différence entre une opinion avec laquelle on est en désaccord,  et l'apport d'une information?

Je pense aussi que lorsqu'on "n'aime pas" une opinion,  on devrait avoir la force et le courage d'expliquer pourquoi, le but n'étant pas tant de contredire l'autre que d'enrichir la discussion.

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il y a 32 minutes, Né entre les rapides a dit :

Merci pour avoir cité cet article.

Une fois de plus, je ne comprends pas pourquoi quelqu'un donnerait un vote négatif à un élément d'information pertinente.  Est-il si difficile de faire la différence entre une opinion avec laquelle on est en désaccord,  et l'apport d'une information?

Je pense aussi que lorsqu'on "n'aime pas" une opinion,  on devrait avoir la force et le courage d'expliquer pourquoi, le but n'étant pas tant de contredire l'autre que d'enrichir la discussion.

Je partage tout à fait ton avis. Malheureusement ce n'est pas tout le monde qui sait profiter d'un forum d'échanges et de discussions pour élargir ses propres horizons. Des occasions manquées, surtout qu'on a tant à apprendre des autres et si peu de temps pour en bénéficier, la vie passant si vite. J'en profite pour te féliciter pour ta riche participation et tous tes commentaires si pertinents que je lis toujours avec grand plaisir et satisfaction. C'est d'ailleurs ce qui fait l'intérêt de Mtlurb, un forum intelligent et grandement diversifié sans pour autant être élitiste.

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  • Similar Content

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      Publié le 29 octobre 2015 à 19h33 | Mis à jour le 29 octobre 2015 à 19h33
       
       
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    • By SupremeMTL
      Hello all!
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      Expos gone, baseball alive in Montreal
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      A ballpark that never was
       
      MONTREAL -- Labatt Park has had two deaths -- not bad for something that never actually existed.
       
      Condos now stand where the downtown park would have been built, and after the project was canned, the model of the park was passed to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
       
      On one truly unlucky night in the Hall's archives, the model also met its destruction.
       
      "They just destroyed it, the two very troubled young men," said president and CEO Tom Valcke, recalling a day he said literally brought tears to his eyes. "It could have been a stagecoach or an old ping-pong table, but they wanted to destroy whatever got in their way that night."
       
      The 12-by-12 model, too large to be a regular fixture at the St. Marys, Ontario, museum, was in storage. Although a smaller Labatt Park model exists, the larger one (valued at $80,000 Canadian) was a sight to behold.
      "It was something -- one of the showstoppers in our collection," said Tom Valcke, director and CEO of the Hall. "I've never seen anything else like it, nothing before and nothing since. The detail -- individual seats, trees, all the concession stands -- it was beautiful."
       
      The model made an initial showing at the Hall, then Valcke put it away until a proper space could be created for it.
       
      Less than a month after the Expos franchise began its new life at RFK Stadium, two teenagers broke into the building where the model was kept and destroyed it, adding a bizarre and somewhat ironic twist to the life of the park that never was and never would be.
       
      Valcke said the Hall kept the pieces and that it could be reassembled, but that the task would be daunting and that it would be difficult to recapture the piece's original majesty. "We kept every single splinter of it," he said. -- Stephen Ellsesser
    • By Philippe
      Un article intéressant sur portfolio.com que j'ai trouvé sur skyscraperpage.com. Selon cet article et selon les revenus personnels disponible (API), Montréal serait, avec Riverside, les deux seuls villes capables de faire vivre une nouvelle équipe de Baseball... Et Montréal se classerait 3ème en Amérique du Nord pour attirer une franchise de la NFL ...
       
      Extrait de l'article
       
      Just two markets currently outside of MLB have income bases sufficiently large to join its ranks: Riverside-San Bernardino, California, and Montreal. And the latter is tainted because it lost a baseball franchise, the Expos, to Washington five years ago (the Expos were renamed the Nationals).
       
      La charte pour tous les sports
      http://www.portfolio.com/resources/SportsChart.pdf
       
      L'article:
      http://www.portfolio.com/industry-news/sports/2009/12/04/how-cities-rank-for-potential-sports-expansion/index1.html
    • By pedepy
      this is kinda old, but it's well written and pretty interesting from an 'historical' point of view, of sorts ...
       
      it's a 1999 washington post tourism piece, set in the context of a d.c. man visiting montreal, and going to a ball game "to see the team washington will probably inherit". it nicely highlights the city's unique attractions, all the while quite accurately summing up the general mood that surrounded baseball in montreal at the time.
       
      oh, and for extra sentimentality, read with
      in the background ...  
      -----------------------------------
       
      Montreal, Expos'd
      Visiting the City Whose Team Might Call D.C. Home
       

      By Mike Tidwell
      The Washington Post
      Sunday, July 11, 1999
       
       
      Hundreds of crazed fans in this crowd of 5,000 foreigners begin standing and savagely slamming the backs of their chairs up and down, up and down to register their intense approval of what's going on on the playing field. The act creates sharp explosions of sound not unlike small-arms fire. The only people not banging chairs, it seems, are the sticky-fingered children eating deep-fried dough or forking strange mounds of fried potatoes laced with cheese and gravy.
      Suddenly, down on the field halfway through this "match," something bad happens for the home team. The French-speaking fans begin yelling at the mostly Spanish-speaking players: "Pourri! Pourri!" Rotten! Rotten! People whistle and blow long, booming plastic horns.
       
      I am, of course, taking in a major league baseball game in Montreal. I'm watching the pinstriped Expos on their home turf, a nine-inning experience that's perhaps the best multicultural adventure available to Washingtonians within easy flying distance of Reagan National Airport. It's a spectacle, a combination of God's two greatest inventions: baseball and international travel. As a junkie for both, I'm borderline apoplectic, immersed in fastballs and home runs, foreign billboards and surnames I can't pronounce.
       
      But a worrisome question nags as I sip my Molson: Do we really want these guys? Unless you're tone deaf to sports news, you probably know there's rampant speculation that the financially troubled Expos may move to the D.C. area.
       
      So I've come here as more than a sports tourist. I'm on a scouting mission, crossing the border for a sneak preview. I've already told my 2-year-old son, an emerging fan back in Takoma Park, that this is his team. He wears a tiny Expos hat when we play Whiffle ball in the back yard.
       
      But seeing this team firsthand reveals the naked truth: They're awful. Just now, an Expos batter strikes out on four pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies, triggering grumbles from the sparse crowd at Olympic Stadium. The team mascot--an orange and hairy something called "Youppi" (French for "hooray")--leads the fans in more chair-slamming fun, trying to keep a rally alive.
       
      The next batter runs the count full, teasing the fans, before popping out to the pitcher. More grumbles. The Expos have the lowest team payroll in baseball and some of the youngest players--and they are off to one of their worst starts in the team's 30-year history. Two nights ago, the players committed six errors in a single game.
       
      Again: Do we really want these guys?
       
      The answer, of course: Oui! Si! Yes! Please! Pretty please! Pretty please with whipped cream and a new, stylishly retro downtown stadium within easy walking distance of the Metro on top!
       
      Expos second baseman Wilton Guerrero steps to the plate as Youppi waves his hirsute arms wildly and the fans begin yelling things in French I can't understand. Guerrero, like the rest of the team, is in a terrible slump, and he falls behind in the count just as I come to a realization: Whatever happens in this game, I'll leave without regrets. If the Expos decamp for Washington, this will be the last summer to see French Canadian big-league baseball, a phenomenon worth catching before it goes, if for no other reason than it provides something found nowhere else in North America: minor league baseball with major league players.
       
      For anyone fashionably tired of big pro salaries, high ticket prices, arrogant players and the hassle of big crowds, the Expos offer the best of all worlds. I took a cheap Air Canada flight here, spent two days touring one of the world's great cities, and now I'm getting the farm league treatment: a tiny crowd, players barely old enough to shave, a crazy marriage proposal in the stands brokered by the mascot, and a wooden outfield scoreboard with numbers updated manually by teenagers. All this for the ridiculously low ticket price of less than $5 U.S. and a seat so close to the action that I can almost smell the pine tar.
       
      Guerrero bounces to second for an out, ending the inning. I do the only sensible thing. I order another Molson.
       
      My innkeeper in downtown Montreal, Madeline, says in accented English, "So what if the Expos leave town? There are many things fantastique and unique in Montreal besides just the Expos."
       
      She's right, of course, and during my two-day stay I'm determined see some "things fantastique" before hitting the ballpark.
       
      I begin by renting a mountain bike and pedaling straight to the top of Mont Royal, the dramatic, forested mountain (okay, a big hill) in the dead center of town that gives the city its name. A winding gravel road takes me through stands of Canadian maples to a beautiful summit park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It's odd to stand at the grassy pinnacle and be eyeball to eyeball with the tops of skyscrapers just 10 blocks away.
       
      On the way down, pausing for great views of the lovely St. Lawrence River, I pass a pair of oddly segregated cemeteries--one for French speakers, one for English speakers--a site that mutely summarizes the long-festering cultural divisions within Quebec.
       
      I pedal to the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, a 40-square-block delight of colonial structures and alleyways filled with horse-drawn caleches and itinerant artists. A warm spring sun has unloosed crowds of diners on the city's Euro-gamut of outdoor cafes, bistros and restaurants. The legendary French Canadian reputation for highly developed leisure skills is on full display this Sunday afternoon amid a sea of white tablecloths and red wines so good that even the vin de maison is a pretty sure bet. I eat grilled salmon served rare with escargots on a bed of scallions and garlic, and nearly swoon.
       
      The next day is game day. I visit the Old Fort on St. Helen's Island, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, before heading to Olympic Stadium. After the War of 1812, the British prepared for a possible American invasion of Montreal by building this moated fortress with eight-foot-long cannons and two-meter-thick stone walls. As something of an invader myself, I grow slightly self-conscious inside those walls. Maybe I'm paranoid, but the eyes of those period-dress sentries make me think they're onto me, pegging me as the expeditionary fingertip of Washington's long arm reaching up to snatch the Expos. I make a discreet but hasty exit.
       
      I arrive three hours before the game, leaving plenty of time to tour the flag-festooned Olympic Park. I buy a ticket for the highly touted gondola ride rising from the spine of Olympic Stadium. Photos of the 1976 Games ornament the waiting area: Nadia Comaneci, Kornelia Ender, Sugar Ray Leonard.
       
      But I soon learn something unexpected about myself: Facing backward in a gondola rapidly moving upward at a 45-degree angle makes me afraid. At the top, pale and sweating, I take in a dramatic aerial view of the famous Olympic Village, the Montreal Botanical Garden and the city's 1967 international Expo site.
       
      Back on terra firma, there's time for one more stop: Moe's Deli and Bar, where Expos fans gather. It's a friendly place with exposed-brick walls, barbecued ribs and desserts kept in an old phone booth by the bar. It's happy hour--two-for-one Labatt beers--till well past game time, perhaps to anesthetize the fans for the poor play sure to follow.
       
      I sit at the bar next to Daniel, a baseball-hatted Expos loyalist, who has a message for D.C. fans. "Don't accept our Expos," he tells me. "You've lost two teams of your own before, so you know what it feels like. Please don't do this to us."
       
      I grimace and finish my second Labatt and push back my stool while Daniel, like all Montrealers I meet, remains a friendly sport to the end.
       
      "When you reach the stadium," he says, "buy the cheapest ticket in the house. It's only $7 Canadian [$4.80 U.S.]. Then, after the first pitch, sit wherever you want."
       
      "A $7 seat, please," I tell the stadium ticket seller moments later, handing over my money. I walk through the turnstile, past the popcorn and pennant venders, toward Section 139, right field. Virtually alone in my area, I take in batting practice amid thoroughly modern trappings: artificial turf, a space-age stadium roof, a gargantuan replay screen in center field. But already it doesn't quite feel like major league baseball.
       
      First, of course, there's the ticket price, about a quarter of what you'd pay at Camden Yards. Then there's the action on the field. An Expos coach is pitching batting practice using a wobbly shopping cart full of baseballs, and he's throwing to the beat of French rock music blasting over the P.A. Thirty feet below me, two teenage boys are standing on a crude scaffold, diligently updating a sprawling pre-World War II-type wooden scoreboard that gives results from around the league. This old-fashioned work, utterly exposed to those of us in the cheap seats, involves taking scores from a press-box official, then reaching into several wooden troughs for wooden slabs hand-painted with numbers and sliding them into the appropriate slot. One of them wears a felt Gatsby hat.
       
      I exit the stands for a quick pregame bite. "One order of poutine," I tell the uniformed attendant at a concession stand. Poutine, a uniquely Quebecois concoction combining french fries, cheddar cheese and beef-stock gravy, is so popular that it's served at McDonald's restaurants throughout the province. I watch the cook in back combine the fries and cheese in a tall paper cup, then slop on a ladleful of thick gravy from a stainless-steel vat. He pauses and then, momentarily indecisive, adds a second, heaping ladleful.
       
      I'm back at my seat in time for the national anthem, spearing dripping mouthfuls of poutine with a fork. For extreme junk food, it's not so bad, though halfway through the serving my stomach begins making odd noises that compete with the junior high school band playing "O Canada" with tubas and French horns on the field.
       
      The Expos take the field next, and the crowd, sprinkled more or less evenly across the stadium, begins banging empty seats up and down in preparation for the opening pitch. Twenty-five-year-old Expos pitcher Mike Thurman is on the mound, and as he warms up you can almost sense the whole place cringe. With an 0-2 record and an ERA of 8.05, he's the worst pitcher on the second-worst pitching staff in the National League. Just two nights ago, Expos pitchers gave up 17 runs in a game.
       
      But the first pitch from Thurman is a strike on the outside corner, and cheers go up just as the strange migration begins. True to Daniel's prediction, everyone in the stands not already seated behind home plate makes a beeline for amazingly choice (and empty) lower-level seats just 20 rows from the field (above a narrow VIP section) in an arc from dugout to dugout. I grab the rest of my poutine and join the exodus. By the end of the first inning, we fans are huddled cozily around home plate.
       
      In the third inning, the Expos stage a mini rally. Third baseman Mike Mordecai lines a clean single to left, and the juices start flowing in the stands. I get caught up in the excitement--this is my team, too--so I stand and begin slamming the back of my chair and cheer madly like those around me. The noise coming from these fans is, no exaggeration, as much as I've heard from crowds four times as big in other parks. Despite the high-decibel support, the rally sputters when Thurman strikes out trying to lay down a bunt.
       
      Next to me, a serious fan named Jean Yves Leduc is studiously scoring the game. He says he's attended at least 40 Expos home games every year for the past two decades. He puts down his scoring pencil and reminisces about highlights, including the 22-inning game against Los Angeles in 1987 and the time he shook hands with third baseman Tim Wallach in the parking lot before a game. "I could feel all the calluses on Wallach's hand from taking extra batting practice every day," Yves says. "I'll never forget those calluses. He was so dedicated to this team and to the game."
       
      And what will Yves do if the Expos leave town?
       
      "I had a talk with my girlfriend," he says, "and I decided that, with all my new free time, I would just go ahead and get married and have a life."
       
      It's the top of the fourth when Thurman makes a mistake pitch and Phillies right-fielder Bobby Abreu lifts a second two-run homer into left field. Four-zip, Philadelphia.
       
      "One more Phillies run," mutters the old farmer next to me after removing his teeth, whistling and putting them back in, "and I'm going home to watch hockey."
       
      Halfway through the fifth inning, Yves gets into an animated conversation with a hot dog vendor. It's all in French, and they both laugh a great deal, and I ask Yves what's so funny. "The crowd's so small tonight that the stadium is telling all the vendors--when they go back for more hot dogs--to go home. They're getting paid for only half a game. But this vendor's decided to avoid the order by not going back to resupply. That way, he can at least get his base pay for the rest of the game."
       
      Sure enough, the vendor walks away with a smile, barking to the crowd, "No hot dogs here! No hot dogs! Pas de chiens chauds!"
       
      Unexpectedly, the Expos make a heroic comeback with three runs in the seventh, while a young relief pitcher called up from Double-A somehow keeps the Phillies scoreless. By the bottom of the ninth, the drama escalates. The Expos are down 4-3 with two outs and a man on second. First baseman Ryan McGuire, who has power, steps to the plate.
       
      We may be few, but we fans do our best. Youppi claps his hairy orange hands and directs our cheers to the field. Chairs are banging. The vendor has stopped not selling hot dogs and is rooting like everyone else. The scoreboard guys are smoking nervously, peeping through a hole in the outfield scoreboard. The guy with the false teeth, true to his word, has stayed to the end.
       
      On a 2-1 pitch, McGuire lifts a towering blast to left field. We jump for joy and cheer louder and louder. But the Phillies's left fielder refuses to give up on the ball. He drifts back, back, back and, incredibly, makes the catch standing against the outfield fence. Five thousand people collapse in their seats in anguish and disbelief.
       
      It was a good game, and the young Expos have no reason to drop their chins. But there is something very sad about the way these previously boisterous fans shuffle slowly out of the stadium. An unusually large number stop and linger at souvenir stands by the exit gates. Souvenir. A French word meaning "to remember." For many of these fans, this may very well be the last time they see their Expos. They buy hats, T-shirts, pennants. To remember.
       
      I take the Montreal Metro back to downtown thinking two things. First, I sincerely hope Montreal figures out a way to keep its team, and prosper, even if it means we in D.C. don't get one. Second, if the Expos do come to us, I can't wait for the day when I can take the Washington Metro to a baseball game with my son. I'll really show him how to make a stadium chair hum.
       
      -----------------------------------
       
       
      :rolleyes:



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