Montreal to welcome Sox, Blue Jays for exhibitions

AL East rivals will play pair of spring games at Olympic Stadium

Montreal to welcome Sox, Blue Jays for exhibitions

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will play preseason baseball in Montreal for the third straight year in 2016. Toronto announced Friday that it will face the Red Sox for a pair of games on April 1-2 at Olympic Stadium, the former home of the Expos.

Past successes of the exhibition series and a strong sports connection between Toronto, Boston and Montreal made it a "natural" decision to come back in 2016, Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston said.

"It's fair to say that the Red Sox recognized the success over the past few years," he said. "We talked about it, the mayor [Denis Coderre] has mentioned it a couple of times about getting a team like the Red Sox. There's a tradition between Montreal and Boston in hockey, and tradition between Toronto and Boston in baseball, and it seemed natural."

Tickets go on sale Sept. 26 at noon ET, with prices starting at $24.

"It would be a great weekend up in Montreal. We're very aware of the great tradition of Montreal and its connection to baseball and we're excited to play a small part in it," said Red Sox president Sam Kennedy. "We're excited, and from David Ortiz to Pablo Sandoval to Xander Bogaerts, we will have a great roster ready to go and we're excited to participate."

For new Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the trip will represent a homecoming. Dombrowski was the general manager of the Expos from 1988-91.

"It's great, it's great for baseball," Dombrowski said. "Boston isn't too far away, so they were always a popular team in Montreal. I look forward to going there. I always loved my time in Montreal. It's a beautiful city. We'll be there a very short time, but you've seen how they draw for these games. There will be a lot of excitement there."

The Expos left in 2004, and in the years since, hunger for baseball's return has grown steadily, said Coderre.

"Of course, we're not negotiating publicly, but there is a step-by-step approach and it's a bottom-up issue," he said. "The fact we have a great team like the Red Sox shows the importance that Montreal reflects. We should have never lost our team, but we can't redo the past. For the future, we are doing what it takes. And when the time comes I can't wait to throw the first pitch."

According to Evenko, the games at the Big O drew 96,545 fans this past spring, and 96,350 fans in 2014.

"The spotlight continues to be on Canadian baseball, first and foremost," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Excited for the weekend and excited for the Red Sox players to be able to be exposed to [Montreal]."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.