For many of us, watching the All-Star Game this week was an opportunity to reflect. It remains a high-profile event that promotes baseball and lets the fans participate in a big way. Over the years, the Home Run Derby has taken center stage, and the game itself has lost some of its lustre. I personally think the World Baseball Classic should be part of the festivities. But of all the sports, baseball's All-Star Game is still the only one with real consequences, and that has most closely resembles the game fans are used to seeing.
This year, the highlight for Montreal baseball fans came off the field. During Commissioner Bud Selig's meeting with the press, he declared that Montreal was "an excellent candidate in the future" for a team, and that the two exhibition games in March were "very impressive" and "marvelous." These comments made headlines throughout the baseball world and beyond. They were a testament to how much we have accomplished together in such a short while. Those two games in March and everything leading up to them are part of a revolutionary change in how Montreal is being perceived.
I remember what it was like in 1982 when we had the All-Star Game in Montreal. The city was on fire during that time. It was a destination, THE place to be. Aside from the players, there were movie stars, celebrities, and TV crews from all across North America arriving in Montreal. They came for the baseball experience, but they would take in so much more. I remember how places like Ben's Deli were as popular as ever, and how the event overlapped with everything iconic about Montreal.
Recently, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said that bringing baseball back will be what will truly make Montreal a sports town again. As much as the Grand Prix and the Canadiens play a big role in promoting the city, the return of Major League Baseball would have its own far reaching impact. It would bring Montreal into the conversation on a continuous basis. It would our city a destination again, and allow us reclaim our place on the big stage.
But getting back to the All-Star Game in Minnesota, it is amazing to see how the event opens a city to an international audience. It is another side of baseball that makes it so special. Each ballpark is a landmark that allows a city to showcase itself to the world. It brings together the region's architecture, its history and its culture into an experience that is both familiar and unique, and that people travel from all over to take in. It is that type of involvement that Montreal Baseball Project envisions in this big dream of ours. Montreal deserves that same opportunity to build a monument to everything great about itself, and that so many people can be part of together.