Archive for the ‘Canadian ballparks’ Category

Montreal Stadium – Delorimier Downs

November 1st, 2013

Montreal Stadium was located at the intersection of Rue Ontario and Avenue De Lorimier in Montreal.  Constructed in 1928, the concrete and steel stadium was home to the International League Montreal Royals.

DeLorimier Park Montreal (public domain)

The stadium also was known as Delorimier Stadium or Delorimier Downs because of its location on the avenue named in honor of French Canadian explorer Pierre-Louis Lorimier.

Avenue DeLorimier and Rue Lariviere - Former Location of Montreal Stadium Home Plate

The Royals were the AAA affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers and many players from their 1955 World Series championship team played in Montreal, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, as well as Don Newcombe, Carl Furillo, and Jim Gilliam. Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Tommy Lasorda also played in Montreal as Royals.  Montreal Stadium is where Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1946, after having played one year with the Negro American League Kansas City Monarchs. Dodgers owner Branch Rickey thought Montreal a better location for starting the integration of professional baseball than the United States, although Robinson actually began the 1946 season on the road at Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium.

Montreal Stadium Home Plate Marker, Avenue De Lorimier and Rue Lariviere (Note Plaque Was Missing At Time I Took the Picture).

Home plate was located near the intersection of Delorimier and Lariviere. The third base foul line ran along Delorimier while first base paralleled Ontario. A plaque near that intersection notes the historical significance of the site.

The Royals played their final game at Delorimier Downs in 1960 and the ballpark was razed in 1965.

Delorimier Downs - Pierre-Dupuy School Construction Showing Stadium Bleachers

The Pierre Dupuy School, a French language high school, now occupies the site. Two school soccer fields reside in what was once the third base and left field foul line.

Pierre Dupuy School on the Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Center Field was located at the intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere.

Intersection of Rue Parthenais and Rue Lariviere, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Center Field

Left field bordered Lariviere.

Looking Southwest Down Rue Lariviere Toward Former Left Field Corner of Montreal Stadium

Right field bordered Parthenais.

Rue Parthenais Looking Southeast, Former Location of Montreal Stadium Right Field (Grover Building On Left)

Several buildings that date to the time of Montreal Stadium remain at the site.

DeLorimier Downs, Montreal, World War Two Bond Drive With Grover Building Beyond Right Field (http://vieillemarde.com/stade-delorimier-stadium-montreal)

Most notable is the Grover Knitting Mill, which can be seen in the picture above, behind the right field fence. The building runs the length of the site on Parthenais.

Grover Building, Rue Parthenais (Located Beyond Montreal Stadium Former Right Field)

Since 1994 the former textile mill has been the home to over 200 artist’s studios.

Entrance to Grover Building on Rue Parthenais, mid block

Montreal has renamed the former site of the stadium “Place des Royals.” Although it has been a lost ballpark for decades, the city has done well in preserving the memory of the ballpark and its place in baseball history.

Palace Des Royaux, Former Site of Montreal Stadium

Should you visit there, be sure also to visit Montreal’s two other professional baseball sites, Jarry Park, home of the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 1976, and Olympic Stadium, home of the Expos from 1977 to 2005.

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Stade Du Parc Jarry, Also Known As Jarry Park Stadium

October 22nd, 2013

Jarry Park Stadium was located at 285 Rue Faillon (later renamed Rue Gary-Carter) in Montreal, approximately six miles southwest of downtown. From 1969 until 1976, it was the home of the National League Montreal Expos.

Uniprix Stadium in Background, Formerly Du Maurier Stadium, Formerly Jarry Park

The stadium was located in a public park known as Jarry Park (Parc Jarry in French) and started out as an uncovered, 3,000 seat ballpark that quickly was turned into a 28,000 seat stadium in the months just prior to the Expos’ arrival in 1969.

Jarry Park in Montreal - A Public Park That Once Included Jarry Park Stadium

In 1977, the Expos moved to Olympic Stadium where the team played until the franchise moved after the 2004 season to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Aerial View of Jarry Park (from http://www.petenersesian.com/whathappenedhere)

A portion of Jarry Park Stadium, like Braves Field in Boston, exists today as a reconfigured sports venue.

Jarry Park Postcard Showing Home Plate Grandstand and Enclosed Press Box

The grandstands along the first and third base foul lines, and the bleachers in center field, are long gone. However, the grandstand behind home plate, with its distinctive top row of enclosed seating and press box, remains.

Remaining Section of Jarry Park - Behind Home Plate - Uniprix Stadium

In the late 1980’s the stadium was renamed in honor of Pope John Paul II to commemorate his 1984 trip to Canada and Montreal (the first time a Pope had visited the country). A major renovation to the stadium was completed in 1996. Renamed Du Maurier Stadium, the facility was used primarily for tennis and included a center court and seating for 11,700 spectators. In 2004, the stadium was renamed Uniprix Stadium (Stade Uniprix in French).

Center Court At Uniprix Stadium With Jarry Park Stadium's Original Grandstand Visible at Right

Center court inside the box-shaped stadium covers what was once the infield.

Entrance To Coupe Rogers AT&T Tennis Tournament (circa 2002), Uniprix Stadium, Looking Toward Former Right Field Corner and Center Field

The front entrance to Uniprix Stadium is located in what was once Jarry Park Stadium’s center field.

Former Center Field Looking From Left Field

Front Entrance to Uniprix Stadium, Section 1, Former Center Field of Jarry Park Stadium (Looking From Former Right Field)

The northwest corner of the  stadium is located near what was once left field.

Site of Former Left Field Corner, Jarry Park Stadium

Section 7, located along the western-facing side of Uniprix Stadium, is in the approximate location of third base.

Entrance to Uniprix Stadium Section 7, Approximate Location of Third Base

Jarry Park was the last major league baseball stadium with only a single deck. It likewise was the last (and first in many years) with no covered grandstands.

Entrance To Uniprix Stadium Above Section 7 At Top of Concourse

Although baseball no is longer played at Jarry Park Stadium, you still can see professional sports played at that venue on a fairly regular basis. The Rogers Cup (formerly the Canadian Open), a major tennis tournament held every other year at Uniprix Stadium, is one such event.

Leader Board Coupe Rogers AT&T Tennis Tournament

If you walk around the back of Uniprix Stadium to the section facing the railroad tracks you can still see the curved outer wall of the grandstand behind what was once home plate, the lower section of the building appearing much the way it did when the Expos played there. Although Jarry Park Stadium may have been nothing more than a stop gap ballpark for the Montreal Expos, it nonetheless qualifies as a place where the game once was played. And fortunately for fans of baseball who care about such things, Jarry Park Stadium, like Braves Field, is not quite a lost ballpark.

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Le Stade Olympique

May 16th, 2010

Built to host the 1976 Summer Olympics, Le Stade Olympique, or Olympic Stadium, was the home of the Montreal Expos from 1977 to 2003.

Le Stade Olympique (Les Messageries de Presse Benjamin Montreal Enr., photo byMalak)

Slated to be the first major league stadium with a retractable roof, problems with construction delayed completion of the roof such that a fully-functioning retractable roof was not operational until 1988.   Continued problems with the building resulted in the installation of a new roof that did not retract. The cables that once lifted the fabric roof into the stadium’s tower are visible in the picture below.

The Roof and Cabling of Olympic Stadium

Le Plaque of Stade Olympique

With French being Montreal’s official language, a visit to Olympic Stadium was as much a trip to the ballgame as it was a lesson in French.

Ticket Stub En Francais

Because the stadium was attached to one of Montreal’s subway stations, it was possible to travel to and from the game without ever seeing the outdoors.  With the roof closed, the stadium’s cavernous seating bowl was exceptionally dark in spots, with shadows throughout much of the seating area under the upperdeck.

Batting Practice at Stade Olympique

The neon-green plastic grass seemed almost to glow against the dark, shadowy background.

The Game Was Still the Same

Low attendance was almost always an issue in Montreal and the day these pictures were taken there were perhaps 3,000 fans in the seats, even less during batting practice.

Third Base Lower Bowl and Upper Deck

With the closed roof and its lights arranged along the perimeter of the roof opening, the stadium had a bit of a Close-Encounters-Of-The-Third-Kind vibe.  Perhaps this was intentional, as the movie opened the same year the Expos began play there.

Richard Dreyfuss Taking A Few Swings in the Batting Cage

Unlike the tag line for the movie, however, fans attending Expos games felt very much alone.

We Are Not Alone, But Just Barely

In addition to the great Canadian Beer, Molson, Stade Olympique offered uniquely Canadian fare such as Moozoo – a “frappe” drink made of fruit and yogurt.

Moozoo Anyone?

The seats at Olympic Stadium were distinctive to say the least.   Their modern design gave the stadium even more of a close-encounters feel.  When cheering for the home team, fans would flip the seat bottoms into the seat tops, creating a truly deafening noise.

Funky Chairs - Very Loud When Slammed

The stadium’s concrete concourse had the feel of a large parking garage – without the cars.

Fans Fight Their Way Up the Ramp To The Upperdeck

Souvenir stands offered very little in the way of baseball memorabilia, presumably because the Expos, uncertain just how long they were going to last in Montreal, did not want to keep too much stock on hand.

Youppi Here, Get Your Youppi Here

Refreshment stands included menus in both French and English.  The French word for hot dog? –  hot dog.   The French word for hamburger? – hamburger.

Bon Appetit et Bon Match

Fans sitting in right field corner had whole sections all to themselves.

Right Field Foul Poll

Olympic Stadium still stands today.  Although it has no major, full-time tenant, it does not appear to be in any danger of becoming another lost ballpark.   The Government of Montreal actively markets its use for events throughout the year, including such events as soccer and motocross.

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