This modest single-deck stadium bore many similarities to Houston's Colt Stadium, San Francisco's Seals Stadium, and Seattle's Sick's Stadium. The outfield fences were symmetrical and perpendicular to the foul lines, with dimensions in between those of the other two stadiums. In contrast to other venues which were intended to be strictly temporary, however, the Expos ended up playing here for eight years. Before 1969, Jarry Park was just a public ballpark for amateur games, with only 3,000 seats. The stadium was hurriedly expanded in early 1969, and construction was not completed until late May. There were still big snowpiles around the ballpark when the first major league game was played here on April 13. The new grandstand sections along the foul lines were separated from the original small arc-shaped grandstand in back of home plate, which had a steeper "rake" (slope) than the new sections. (This is shown by the second, smaller profile in the above diagram.)
There is some doubt about the precise distance to center field, which has been variously listed as 415 feet, 417 feet, and 420 feet. The fence in center field may have been moved back a few feet in 1974, as indicated by Lowry (2006), but given that the 420 marker was already in place by 1970 at least, if not by 1969, it is much more likely that the "420" figure was actually the distance to the deep corners. Because of the discrepancies, the "420" figure is shown with a red outline in the diagram above.
Since this was never intended to be a permanent home for the Expos, it is too bad that they didn't make use of the existing minor league stadium in downtown Montreal, Delorimier Downs, which was built in 1928. There was a lot of history attached to it: in 1946 Jackie Robinson played his first professional games (with the minor league Royals) in Delorimier Downs. The capacity of the old ballpark was only about 20,000, tightly squeezed into the urban street grid, leaving no room for expansion. Delorimier Downs was finally demolished in 1971.
Like most expansion franchises, the Expos struggled in their early years. They went 52-110 in their inaugural year, then steadily improved and came close to the .500 mark in 1973 and 1974, after which their win-loss record declined. Attendance at Jarry Park paralleled the Expos' generally lackluster playing performance, averaging about 1.2 million annually but then dropping off during the last couple years before they moved across town. The most outstanding (and popular) Expos player during the Jarry Park era was red-headed, freckle-faced Rusty Staub, "le Grande Orange."
As with Sick's Stadium, the best feature of Jarry Park was that the seats were so close to the playing field. Railroad tracks paralleled the third base foul line, on the southwest side. It was located in a pleasant public park (named Jarry Park) with a large pond, trees, and gardens, located about four miles northwest of downtown Montreal. One of Jarry Park's unique features was the swimming pool beyond the right field fence, into which long home runs sometimes splashed. After eight years in their ever-so-humble home in Jarry Park, the Expos moved into the futuristic Olympic Stadium in 1977. This new home, alas, proved to be quite unsatisfactory for baseball...
For many years after the Expos left, Jarry Park remained intact and was used for tennis and other sporting events, as well as for concerts. In 1987 it was renamed "Du Maurier Stadium." The structure gradually deteriorated, however, and in 1995 a comprehensive reconstruction project began. All of the grandstand except for the original curved part behind home plate was demolished or dismantled, as Jarry Park was converted for use as a venue for professional tennis tournaments. A rectangular grandstand now surrounds center court, the middle of which is located about where home plate once was. (Various peripheral tennis courts used are not shown in the diagram.) Musical concerts are often performed there as well. In April 2004, the former Jarry Park was officially renamed "Uniprix Stadium" (or "Stade Uniprix" in French), after a leading pharmaceutical chain in Quebec. Further renovations are contemplated in the near future.
SOURCES: Lowry (2006), Ritter (1992), Gershman (1993), wikipedia.org, stadeuniprix.com (NOTE: There are some chronological discrepancies between those two Web sites; I consider the latter more reliable.)
FAN TIP: Mark Komp