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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Olympic Stadium 2014: Expos Found

Montreal's Olympic Stadium March, 29, 2014 as the Blue Jays take on the Mets in an exhibition game. In the stands are 50,000 people. (G21D Photo)
Olympic Stadium
Part 1: Expos Found | Part 2: Honoring 1994
Part 3: Expos Speak | 2012: Expos Search

Quick, what color are Olympic Stadium's seats?

Based solely on that picture up there, it'd be hard to tell. That's because there were 50,000 people in the stands. That many people tend to obscure the seats themselves from view.

My wife and I had the good fortune this weekend to obscure two of those seats (yellow) during the second of two exhibition games staged between the Blue Jays and the Mets.

The games were the first baseball games played at Olympic Stadium in nearly a decade. And, what a turnout. The place was alive from start to finish.

The game itself seemed to be beside the point. There were people in Blue Jays gear. I don't think I spotted one guy in Mets gear.
Two guys in Expos jerseys and another in an Expos shirt at Olympic Stadium in Montreal March 29, 2014. (G21D Photo)
What we did see were tons of people with their Expos gear. I was actually one of them. I had my Expos hat, purchased for and worn at a 2012 game we saw at Nationals Park in Washington. I also had my 2010 Andre Dawson-in-Expos-gear Hall of Fame induction T-shirt, purchased just for this occasion.

That's my connection to the Expos, Dawson. Dawson was my favorite player growing up in Iowa, Dawson as a Cub. Before he was a Cub, of course, Dawson was an Expo. And he's in Cooperstown as an Expo.

My other connection is just that my wife and I have seen games at 20 different major league parks. We met in 2003 and began going to games in 2004. I had seen an Expos game the year before we met. But I didn't get the message that the Expos actually were leaving in 2004. We live not four hours from Montreal. We didn't go to a game there together. It was one of my biggest regrets.

Those regrets drove us to Montreal in 2012, for a soccer game at Olympic Stadium. Read about that trip: Montreal - Search for the Expos.

But that was soccer. It wasn't baseball. So, when I heard baseball was back in Montreal, if only for two days, we had to go. And we did.
In the Olympic Stadium rotunda before the gates opened March 29, 2014. (G21D Photo)
We made sure we got there early and were in line before the doors opened. There was already a crowd, a crowd filled with Expos fans. There were fathers in Expos hats and kids, to whom baseball in Montreal had to only be something from far off ancient history, with Expos hats, too.

Inside, there were vendors selling programs and souvenirs. The concession stands were hopping. There was music.
Poutine and baseball at Olympic Stadium in Montreal March 29, 2014. (G21D Photo)
Our seats were on the third base side. We found them and then went for some food. My objective: The Quebec delicacy that is poutine. I had developed a taste for the fries, gravy and cheese curd mess on previous trips to Quebec. And, now, I was going to have it at a baseball game. That's it there.

The big wait was for the pre-game ceremony, the one where they honored the 1994 Expos team that finished the strike-shortened season with the best record in baseball. The ceremony was great, but I'll get to that in another post.

That's because there were eight players honored who have been featured here as members of the 1990 CMC/ProCards sets. One of them, Tim Scott, was even interviewed here.

The game itself was a tight one, without a score until the eighth inning. That's when Melky Cabrera launched one over the wall to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead and, soon, the 2-0 win.

I actually had the video running for Cabrera's home run. Some fireworks went off off camera. But the real fireworks were in the stands, with so many people getting up and cheering a home run in hit in Montreal.

That was nice to see.

What was also nice to see: The wave. Experience the Montreal wave in the video below. And, if you look closely, as the wave passes by, you'll find out the answer to the top question above: The Olympic Stadium seats are yellow and blue.

Olympic Stadium 
Part 1: Expos Found | Part 2: Honoring 1994 
Part 3: Expos Speak | 2012: Expos Search

Other photos and notes:

Souvenirs. (G21D Photo)
Another view of the crowd. Note the top ring, it's full. (G21D Photo)
More crowd. (G21D Photo)
Bottom of the third and the outfield upper tier is full. (G21D Photo)
Speaking of scoreboards, the Olympic Stadium scoreboards seemed a bit stuck in time, understandable for a stadium that hasn't had a permanent tenant in a decade. (G21D Photo)
The Olympic Stadium roof. A pop up hit off the roof and was caught for an out. (G21D Photo)
The big attendance announcement: 50,229. (G21D Photo)

1 comment:

  1. I used to make an annual trip there in the early 00's to catch a Mets series. I think the highest attendance for any of those games was 20K, but that was with a promotion with all the day camps in the city. Attendance was usually announced at 4K, and on nights when the Habs were playing, it was probably half that.

    It was surreal to return there for the Grey Cup in 2009, to enjoy the CFL championship with 66,000 people. There were temporary stands under the scoreboard for that.

    And baseball and poutine are always a great mix.