Hundreds rally outside Olympic Stadium

Updated: September 25, 2004, 10:08 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Hundreds of Montreal Expos fans held a rally near Olympic Stadium on Saturday in the faint hope of dissuading baseball from moving their hometown team.

Several speakers, including Jacques Doucet, the club's longtime French broadcaster, and Michel Filteau, who organized the rally, addressed a crowd of approximately 500 people in a parking lot adjacent to the Pierre Charbonneau Centre.

Doucet told the crowd he was "proud and disappointed" to be speaking to them.

"I said I was proud because of the support that these fans showed about keeping the team here, and I was disappointed because of the reasons that we were there," Doucet said Saturday night just before the first pitch of Montreal's game against Philadelphia.

Following the 30-minute rally, the group marched along the grounds of the Olympic Park to gather again outside Olympic Stadium.

"I think the fans could be the spark for the renewal or the rebirth of the Expos," Filteau said. "It will pass by the fans first. They have to take the leadership in that cause. Like with Minnesota, when they decided to contract the Twins the whole community got behind saving the team, so we have to do the same thing."

One of the many signs displayed during the rally read: "Selig is not my Bud."

The Expos have four home games remaining this season, and Wednesday night's game against Florida could be the last big league game at Olympic Stadium. After years of dwindling attendance in Montreal, baseball is expected to relocate the team -- which has been owned and operated by Major League Baseball for the last three seasons -- for the 2005 season.

Washington D.C. is the leading candidate. Nearby northern Virginia; Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; and Portland, Ore., have also been contenders.

Expos fan Robbie Hart, a documentary filmmaker who once made a movie about the plight of the team's fans, believes that support for the team is even greater than what was displayed at the rally.

"They're not all here now but there are a lot of people who feel that this team still deserves to be in Montreal, that they still love the Expos and that this city can support a baseball team," Hart said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press