Good seats available at Olympic
Page 2's tour of the major-league ballparks stops off in Montreal, where we had the run of Olympic Stadium.
Updated: June 23, 2006, 7:46 PM ETBy Jim Caple | Page 2 columnist
Editor's Note: This is the fourth report card in Page 2's summerlong series rating all 30 ballparks in Major League Baseball.MONTREAL -- It's never a good sign for a team when the scalpers are more aggressive than a telemarketer.
Opened: April 15, 1977
Surface: Artificial Our Ratings:
Seat comfort: 2.5
Hot dogs: 3
Signature food: 5
P.A. system: 2
Fun stuff: 2
Trading up: 3
Fan knowledge: 3
7th inning stretch: 1.5
Local scene: 1
Wild card: -2
That said, this is a truly miserable stadium. It's an ugly, depressing dome with a retractable roof that won't open, artificial turf and thousands upon thousands of empty seats. And to think that it once was the proud site of an Olympics, and regularly welcomed huge crowds for one of the best teams in baseball. We can only imagine how things would be different for the Expos had the 1994 strike not ended the season and kept them from a possible trip to the World Series. As it is, about the only good thing you can say for Olympic Stadium is that it has been years since a two-ton chunk of concrete last fell to the ground. The rankings (all prices are in U.S. funds) ... 1. Seat comfort: I'll give Olympic Stadium this -- its seats are interesting, at least the ones above the VIP section. They're of a design that I suppose seemed "mod" three decades ago, when designers thought we would all be wearing slick, polyurethane boots and zipping around town on jetpacks, but here in the real 21st century, the chairs look like they were salvaged from the corporate headquarters of Spacely Sprockets. Worse, they are absolutely filthy -- I don't think they've been cleaned since Rusty Staub played for the Expos. Or maybe the architects just assumed that in the future, fans would carry spritzers of Formula 409 in their utility belts to clean them themselves. The seats do generally face the mound, though. Points: 2.5 2. Quality of hot dogs: One stand sells kosher dogs that have a decent zing to them and the price -- about $3 -- isn't bad. 3 3. Quality/selection of other concession-stand fare: The fare is generally bland and typical, but there are a few nice additions to the usual ballpark menu, including souvlaki, a tasty cinnamon dough dessert and the justifiably famous smoked meat sandwiches. 3 4. Signature Concession Item: If the Expos move, the saddest thing won't be the relocation of Canada's first team. No, it will be the demise of Monsieur's Smoked Meat sandwiches from the major-league scene. I could go all Food Channel on you in describing their taste, but instead I'll just say that they're so good, they almost make up for the Expos losing Larry Walker. Almost. 5 5. Beer: There isn't much variety -- you better like Molson's, eh? -- but the prices aren't bad (about three bucks). For that price, you can drink enough to forget the Randy Johnson trade. 3 6. Bathrooms: The game's announced attendance was 7,099, but I still had to wait in line to use the bathroom during the eighth inning. What, did I suddenly change genders? Guys don't wait in line at stadium bathrooms, women do. But on a positive note, the bathrooms were cleaner than the seats. 2 7. Scoreboard: The large board has a nice video screen and provides full statistics on players, but if there was anything showing the number of pitches or their speeds, I missed it. Manual out-of-town scoreboards ring the outfield, which is very nice. It lets you keep track of how the former Expos greats are doing. 3
Jim Caple prepares for his journey into Le Stade Olympique.
|Here's what Page 2's Jim Caple spent during his day at Olympic Stadium -- at least we've converted all those Canadian funds properly:
Ticket: About $5.
Hot dog and beer: About $6
Smoked meat sandwich and soda: About $8
Cinnamon dough dessert: About $3.
Total: $22. |
12. Exterior architecture: Let's see. They had one of the ugliest stadiums in baseball -- and the most expensive ever built -- so you wouldn't think they could do anything to make it worse, right? Not so. Just to really top things off, they added an expensive retractable roof but built it so poorly that it has to remain closed at all times. And the surroundings might be even worse. I'll just say this: I wish I had the concrete concession in Montreal. 1 13. Interior Architecture: And it doesn't get much better inside. The hole in the roof is covered by some sort of awnings that make it look as if the world's largest soccer ball is balanced on top of the stadium. Worse, there are almost no TV monitors on the concourses, so you can't see the game while standing in line for concessions. And forget about baseball -- you get no sense that the Olympics were ever held here, either. Sigh. At least the crane is gone from center field. 1 14. Access: It's too bad the stadium is so removed from the pulse of the city, but the subway drops you off right inside the stadium ticket area (watch out for stampeding scalpers). There also is more than adequate parking in the surrounding ramps for $12, and $5 in the neighboring streets. And, naturally, crowds rarely pose a problem. 4.5 15. Trading-up factor: It's fairly easy, but whatever you do, don't screw up and try moving into the lower level VIP seats down the foul lines. Nobody ever buys tickets for those seats, so the local gendarmes know that anyone who sits there must be trespassing. One guy kicked me out within 30 seconds, and then chased away three families who went down to the bullpen to take photos and ask for autographs before the game. This guy was relentless. Simon Wiesenthal didn't pursue Nazi war criminals this zealously. I was able to sit behind home plate in the fourth inning without a problem, though. 3.5
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