Union League Baseball approved the sale of the Columbus Crickets today. Also given final approval was the move of the Columbus franchise to Montreal in light of Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos taking flight and moving in next to the ULB’s Washington Senators.
The Crickets will be leaving behind a legacy in Columbus that included the 2nd start of Michael Jordan’s brief but Hall of Fame career before he set up shop in Charlotte. The Crickets attracted fans, but an inability to expand Dave Thomas Memorial Field or get a new stadium approved in recent years was the final nail in the coffin of the Crickets.
“In modern terms, the Crickets park was a refurbished nightmare. Built quickly and on the cheap, it held 32,000 fans, but lacked amenities. It wasn’t a ballpark built to last decades. The Thomas group always envisioned a new ballpark built within a decade. That never came to be due to potential voter backlash.” said Commissioner Steve Greenberg.
While MLB Commissioner George W. Bush was apparently miffed at the idea of the ULB’s Generals changing names to the Washington Senators two seasons ago, he enlisted high powered help to get approval for a new ballpark to be built in the footprint of Old RFK Stadium.
With the Expos leaving Montreal and the Thomas family looking to sell, the ULB hooked up with Canadian actor Donald Sutherland who had originally put together a group to buy the Expos from Jeffery Loria and keep them in Montreal. When that failed to come to fruition, the group approached the ULB with the idea to bring a ULB team back to Canada. With the sale approved from the Thomas Family to the Sutherland Group, and Labatt Park soon to be sitting empty after just 10 years of baseball, the fates aligned and the Montreal Royals were reborn.
The Montreal Royals were a minor league professional baseball team located in Montreal, Quebec, that existed from 1897–1917 and 1928–60 as a member of the International League and its progenitor, the original Eastern League. The Royals are most famous as the top farm club (Class AAA beginning in 1946) of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1939 to 1960, which included the pioneering African-American player, Jackie Robinson, as a member for the 1946 season.
Sutherland’s group include Eugene Levy, Saul Rubinek and The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, the 18th Prime Minister of Canada.
“If we need to make a movie about the Royals, we’ve got 3 fine lead actors.” quipped Mulroney at the press conference.