Montreal unveils Baseball Action Plan before exhibition games
Montreal a baseball town not just for exhibition games, but for the long haul, says Mayor Denis Coderre
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced a multimillion-dollar, 10-year Baseball Action Plan to develop a grassroots love of baseball in the city.
"We lost a team," Coderre said at a news conference Friday at at the Olympic Stadium. "We should never have lost a team. So now we have to do our homework."
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The news conference preceded two days of exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.
Coderre said he's excited to welcome 106,000 baseball fans this weekend. "And we will show that Montreal is a baseball town."
Exhibition baseball games deliver a blockbuster turnout, but Coderre was questioned as to whether Montreal could sustain that enthusiasm over 81 home games.
"Yes. Field of Dreams was true – if you build it, they will come," Coderre answered.
It's in our DNA
Coderre stressed that he wasn't interested in fishing around for a team to transplant to Montreal but that he wanted the city to boomerang back to its baseball-loving roots.
"It's about the heritage of baseball," Coderre said. "We're the city of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clement."
"It's more than the return of the Expos – it's about developing players and passion for baseball in the city."
mayor <a href="https://twitter.com/DenisCoderre">@DenisCoderre</a> photo op with <a href="https://twitter.com/russellmartin55">@russellmartin55</a> & <a href="https://twitter.com/baseballcanada">@baseballcanada</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Expos?src=hash">#Expos</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLB?src=hash">#MLB</a> <a href="https://t.co/T1VYdqftlL">pic.twitter.com/T1VYdqftlL</a>—@DGelevan
Coderre was firm that the Olympic Stadium would not be the home of a Major League club.
He added that when he has an infrastructure announcement to make, he'll hold a separate news conference for it.
The Action Plan
⚾ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Baseball?src=hash">#Baseball</a> - Montréal adopte le Plan d’action 2015-2025 préparé avec plusieurs partenaires <a href="https://t.co/iAbFAAWWz2">https://t.co/iAbFAAWWz2</a> <a href="https://t.co/lPWOmGcqjV">pic.twitter.com/lPWOmGcqjV</a>—@MTL_Ville
The Montréal 2015-2025 Baseball Action Plan focuses on developing the sport in Montreal through new minor league teams, training officials, improving baseball facilities and hosting events to promote the sport.
Some key points:
- $15 million to establish regional hubs for ball sports.
- $11 million invested to improve several baseball fields over three years.
- Investments totalling $32.1 million.
- Plan was drawn up in collaboration with boroughs and 30 partners from baseball and softball communities.
Sports for children's development
Coderre said that the investment in baseball was part of a holistic strategy to get more sports into the lives of young Montrealers.
He cited his work as Secretary of State for Amateur Sport and decades of political experience as the grounds for focusing on building our sports infrastructure "step-by-step."
"I know the importance of every sport. I'm investing in soccer, I'm investing in swimming pools, hockey and football, but baseball was missing. And now we're focusing on that too," Coderre said.
Coderre added that on Saturday, John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, will be joining him.
"We will announce a twin city agreement and we will have a baseball clause. So don't go away. Tomorrow we'll be right back."
Tim Raines <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Expos?src=hash">#Expos</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLB?src=hash">#MLB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlueJays?src=hash">#BlueJays</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash">#RedSox</a> <a href="https://t.co/EKGzENcpEV">pic.twitter.com/EKGzENcpEV</a>—@DGelevan