Denis Coderre talks up Expos on Florida trip

Mayor Denis Coderre didn't pass up an opportunity to talk up the departed Montreal Expos on a trade mission to Florida.

Montreal mayor meets with counterpart in St. Petersburg, Florida, home of Tampa Bay Rays

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, wearing an Expos hat, attends the Toronto Blue Jays spring training in Florida. (Radio-Canada)

Mayor Denis Coderre didn't pass up an opportunity to talk up the departed Montreal Expos on a trade mission to Florida.

"I'm a bit of an ambassador for baseball in Montreal," he said.

"People miss the Expos."

While in the Sunshine State, Coderre met with Rick Kriseman, mayor of St. Petersburg, which is home to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team some have speculated could be on the move.

"I told Denis Coderre not to touch my team," Kriseman joked afterward.

"I hope Montreal gets a team, but not ours."

Kriseman took over as St. Petersburg mayor in January 2014 and has been fighting to keep his team ever since.

But Rays ownership doesn't want the team to play in its current stadium, Tropicana Field. 

The roof isn't retractable, making it impossible to enjoy a game under the Florida sun.

Ownership has a contract to remain at Tropicana Field until 2027, but Kriseman said he's open to lifting the agreement as long as the team remains in the area.

Coderre visits Blue Jays facility

While in Florida, Coderre also visited the Toronto Blue Jays' spring training facility, not far from St. Petersburg.

The Blue Jays will play two exhibition games at the Olympic Stadium April 3 and 4. 

A total of 96,350 fans attended a pair of exhibition games there last March between the Blue Jays and New York Mets.

The Expos played in Montreal from 1969 to 2004, when they moved to Washington to become the Nationals.

A recent study found that a major league team in Montreal would be financially feasible, but would require finding an owner and building a new stadium.

The Montreal Baseball Project, led by former Expo Warren Cromartie, has been working on building support and trying to land a franchise.


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