Originally Posted by volguus zildrohar
Why did The Expos leave in the first place? It's my understanding that the games were sparsely attended then so what's different now?
Sorry for the long post.
The Expos left for a bunch of reasons. Poor attendance was one reason, but it wasn't the only one, and it certainly wasn't always the case.
For one, they were the smallest market team in the league.
Second, the Canadian dollar became quite weak during the 1990s (back then 1 Canadian dollar was only worth about $0.62 US. To put things in comparison, 1 Canadian dollar is today worth $1.05 USD, and 0.73 Euros)
Third, the team was greatly mismanaged after Charles Bronfman sold the team in the early 1990s. Claude Brochu was the next owner, and he kept threatening to move the team to places like Arizona or Washington. In 1994, the Expos had the best record in a season cut short by a baseball strike. The following year the Expos became known for fire sales. Brochu sold his portion to a New York art dealer named Jeffrey Loria.
This sums up well what Jeffrey Loria did (among many things):
1993 – Failed in bid to purchase the Baltimore Orioles.
1999 – Initial $12 million USD investment in the Montreal Expos for a 24% interest in the franchise.
2000 – Instead of putting up an additional $39 million towards a new downtown ballpark in Montreal as called for in the deal under which he entered as an investor, Loria outmaneuvered the other partners by cancelling those plans and initiating capital calls. Those capital calls result in Loria investing an additional $18 million to increase his ownership percentage from 24% to 93%. Thus Loria gained 93% of the Expos for roughly a $30 million investment.
2001 – Loria threatens MLB with an antitrust lawsuit if they proceed with plans to contract the Montreal franchise without allowing Loria to continue to own another MLB team, preferably in Washington DC.
2002 – MLB exchanges Loria’s ownership interest in the Montreal Expos for the Florida Marlins. The price MLB ascribed to the Expos was $120 million — a 900 percent return on his original investment, but only a 400 percent return on his total Expos ownership investment — plus a $38.5 million loan, $15 million of which was later forgiven.
The games tended to be sparsely attended mostly after 1998. Prior to 98 they retained a certain degree of respectability (18,000+ on average almost every year prior to 1998). At their peak in the mid 1980s, the Expos managed to draw in the high 20,000s on average. They were at one time squarely in the middle of the pack, and even near the top in terms of attendance some years. http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/1...attendance.htm
In the 1980s, teams like Cleveland, Atlanta, Texas and Pittsburgh all had pretty similar attendance figures to the Expos in the 2000s. They all received new stadiums in the 90s (Pittsburgh in the early 2000s) and their attendance improved to respectable levels.
I'm pretty confident that a new outdoor stadium (that was a little on the smaller side, maybe 35,000 seats) and well located would draw people to the games. I'd seriously consider being a season ticket holder! As long as the Canadian dollar remains strong compared to the US Dollar (no signs it won't), and MLB imposes some sort of salary cap, Montreal might just be able to thrive. It is not like this city has no history with baseball. Of course it will take some clever marketing to remind people how fun it used to be to go to the park and watch a ball game.
From what I have read, enrollment in youth baseball in Montreal and Quebec has surprisingly increased in the past few years.