SPORTS

MLB commissioner impressed by Montreal crowds, says city needs a firm plan

04/13/2015 07:48 EDT | Updated 06/21/2015 03:59 EDT
TORONTO - Commissioner Rob Manfred said the crowds that packed Montreal's Olympic Stadium for pre-season games were a "very positive thing" in terms of demonstrating the city's interest in Major League Baseball.

As for the possibility of the sport returning to Montreal at some point in the future, several hurdles remain.

"I do think it's important for Montreal to have a firm plan as to how they would get to a major-league facility, a site, a financing plan and the like in place," Manfred said Monday. "In terms of a timeline for an actual franchise, it's just impossible to tell.

"I mean obviously there are two ways you can get there. Expansion — which I see as a back-burner issue for baseball right now — and relocation. That obviously depends on developments in other markets."

Earlier this month, over 46,000 fans attended a pre-season game between the Toronto Blue Jays against the Cincinnati Reds. More than 50,000 fans showed up to watch the teams play again the next day.

The city has been without a franchise since the Montreal Expos last played in 2004. The Blue Jays also played a two-game series in Montreal before the 2014 regular season.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is one of many baseball fans in the city hoping to see the sport return on a full-time basis.

"We do not have a meeting set but I would be very happy to meet with the mayor of Montreal," said Manfred, who took over as MLB commissioner in January when Bud Selig retired.

The commissioner discussed the Montreal subject during a media availability before the Blue Jays' home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Rogers Centre.

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