Baseball lovers, get ready, because the season is about to kick off with spring training! And Canadian fans get a taste when The Blue Jays play two exhibition games against the New York Yankees in Montreal at the end of March. Starting in 2014, the spring training games in Montreal have become a Canadian tradition.
For the rest of their spring training, The Blue Jays – Canada’s only MLB team – will be playing at their home away from home in Dunedin. Holding Spring Training in the same place for over 40 years, they are the only MLB franchise to have never changed Spring Training locations. And the ballpark has gotten a major face lift that will be unveiled for the 2020 season. If you’re interested, you can even catch a Blue Jays game in Florida and make it a full getaway with a stay in nearby Clearwater Beach!
Whether you love the game, or you just love The Blue Jays, there is so much to do in Montreal if you are checking out the Spring Training games in the city in March.
Be a Part of Canadian Baseball history
The Jays may be Canada’s only MLB team, but that hasn’t always been the case. In 1969 the Montreal Expos started a 36-season run, building a rich baseball history in the city. Before the Montreal Expos, International League team the Montreal Royals called the city home from 1928 to 1960. Many Montrealers are hoping to continue building their baseball footprint with a return of their beloved Montreal Expos team. It’s one of the reasons why Montreal is happy to host games during Spring Training.
The baseball stadiums in Montreal tell the story for baseball fans and history buffs alike:
- Olympic Stadium: As its name suggests, Olympic Stadium was built for use during the 1976 Summer Olympics before it was home to the Montreal Expos. Now it’s a multi-use facility.
- Jarry Park Stadium: Once home to the Montreal Expos before they moved to their home at Olympic Stadium in 1977, Jarry Park Stadium is now a tennis stadium
- Delorimier Stadium (historical marker): Home to the former Montreal Royals, Delorimier Stadium was torn down after they disbanded and there is a memorial in its place honouring Jackie Robinson – an instrumental figure in baseball and the civil rights movement.
One Montreal baseball fan is so dedicated to his love of baseball and its history in Montreal that he has amassed the world’s largest private collection of Montreal Expos memorabilia with more than 1,000 pieces.
Get to know Montreal between games
While Montreal has a rich baseball history, it is also known for it’s charming historical neighbourhoods, old-world architecture, delicious local cuisine and microbreweries, and a rousing nightlife scene. So, between games take some time to get to know what makes Montreal so amazing.
Here are a few things to do in Montreal – mixed with some can’t-miss baseball attractions sprinkled throughout the city.
400-years-young, Old Montreal is a surreal look into the past from a modern perspective. From the cobblestone streets to the historic buildings that line them, there is always something going on in Old Montréal. The Notre-Dame Basilica sits like an iconic crown on the city. It is an ornate and impressive historical site and parts of its history dates back to 1672. You could wander the streets of Old Montreal to feel like you passed through a time machine, or you could also take in the view of the whole city from 60 metres above it on the Grande Roue de Montreal ferris wheel. If you are looking to mix a bit of adventure into your visit to Old Montreal, fly overhead on the Canada’s first urban zipline circuit that takes you over Montreal’s Old Port.
Can’t-Miss Baseball Attraction: Jackie Robinson’s House is marked with a plaque and a picture of Jackie and Rachel Robinson. 8232 Gaspé Avenue is a positive symbol of the civil rights movement and it was also home to baseball great Jackie Robinson when he played for the Montreal Royals in the 1946 season.
Montreal has its own local flavours and a number of successful micro-breweries to prove it. For an experience that is more centralized in the heart of the city check out Montreal Craft Brewery and Beer Tasting Tours. Their walking tours showcase 3 or 4 breweries in the city and 6 different beer tastings. City Brew Tours offers an experience that is a bit more off the beaten path. They take you to some of the city’s hidden gems, sometimes more on the outskirts of the city. On their tours you will get to try 12 – 16 different beers. In either case, they feature locally founded and owned micro-breweries and pair the beers with local cuisine. Now would also be a great time to try your first poutine – well, maybe just your first REAL poutine.
Can’t-Miss Baseball Attraction: The Jackie Robinson Statue was unveiled in 1987. This statue at Olympic Stadium commemorates the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson as the first black player in professional baseball and the fact that it was such a monumental occurrence during the Civil Rights Movement.
In addition to poutine, there are a few delicious things that Montreal is famous for and they are all worth a stop. Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Montreal bagels are delicious. They are hand-rolled, wood-fired, and you can get them at any of the local shops in the city – but the locals will tell you that there is an ongoing debate whether Fairmount Bagel or St-Viateur Bagels serves the best bagels in the city. One thing everyone can agree on is that you can’t visit Montreal and not go to Schwartz’s Deli for smoked meat. It opened in 1928 and sometimes there are still lineups down the street to get one of their famous smoked meat sandwiches. For something a little sweeter, check out the sugar shacks in the city. Spring means fresh, sweet maple syrup and the city’s sugar shacks know EXACTLY what to do with it – but be sure to try some hot maple taffy made on fresh snow.
Can’t-Miss Baseball Attraction: Near Schwartz’s Deli, The Jackie Robinson Mural on Boulevard St-Laurent celebrates Jackie’s contribution to the game in the city and the strides he took during the Civil Rights Movement.
Montreal’s nightlife is the perfect cap to any day. Whether you are looking for drinks with friends or you want a more lively all-night party (to celebrate a Blue Jays win?), there is no shortage of night clubs, underground bars, supper clubs, sports bars, and after hours spots. From live music venues to world-class DJs, the music is on point, the drinks come at your pace, and the city comes alive at night. Rue Crescent and Boulevard St. Laurent in the heart of downtown Montreal are great areas if you are looking for the lively all-night clubbing experience. Old Montreal is more sophisticated with lounges and supper clubs, and The Village adds a bit more colour to the nightlife.
Can’t-Miss Baseball Attraction: Grand Chelem Ball Centre offers next level sports entertainment, try your swing in Montreal’s first batting cages, have a drink while watching a game on the big screen, or play in the arcade.