Loria Also to Blame

By LF

I believe that Loria can't get a free pass while the Quebec owners shoulder the blame if you look at the evolution of this. The participation of Jean Coutu [in an enlarged investment capacity] and Bronfman et al was recruited by Loria/Menard, and Coutu did not mince words about the conditions of his participation. He said quite clearly that his participation was conditional on the cost of the stadium not rising above the $200 million Canadian, and Loria and Menard and Samson were quite clear at the time that that was the price tag and what the stadium designers had been working towards. So what has transpired in the mean time? Quite a lot.

It hardly gets brought up that the seeds for discord between Loria and the Quebec shareholders were sown back in the fall of 1999, to the point where the rumors were getting so negative and based in reality that Menard tried to enforce a code of silence on matters. The French press reported then that "although the group of Jacques Menard wished to entrust the direction of the team to a Quebecker, Jeffrey Loria would not hear of it that," and would only invest in the team if he and David Samson were in charge. Also, Loria and Bronfman had reportedly "crossed swords," Loria had called for changes in the stadium plans for more seats and other things, and the French investors had started calling Samson "Napoleon" reportedly because of his dictatorial manner. From September 1999, this quote says what is finally being realized now: "Whispers have emerged indicating that the price to pay to save the Expos would be now too high for the tastes of some." One of the Quebec shareholders had said regarding the negotiations with Loria [who wanted more power] "As for me, I do not want to compromise with a 'gun' to my head." <

After this, the reins were entrusted to Loria, who became the acting managing GP (as I mentioned before, an official ratification by MLB of Loria as managing GP did not occur, but was conditional on approval of the entire stadium and consortium relaunch, which also did not get voted on since the consortium is not complete to this day). During this time, he apparently revised the business plan and did not forward the specifics of this information to the rest of the ownership. He unilaterally planned stadium design changes that would add a significant amount of cost to the project and then dumped it in the laps of the Quebec ownership, saying they needed to put in more capital to the project. Drawing up such plans unilaterally and not keeping the shareholders up to date as they allege shows a complete lack of respect towards them, as well as playing with fire in that while Loria needs the money of the Quebec shareholders to run the show in Montreal, they don't need him or the hassle of being involved with the Expos whatsoever. As with his tactics trying to do things his way with the broadcast deals and seemingly bully the broadcasters into caving in which resulted in bad blood [the Labatt deal also comes to mind], Loria's attitude towards the Quebec shareholders endangers the project. Loria won't even disclose amongst his business partners who the potential 3 to 5 American investors are! Most importantly, when the Quebec shareholders agree to terms under specific conditions of involvement [specifically the stadium cost], and then the acting managing GP keeps them out of the loop and starts unilaterally changing things without consultation, it is hard to blame the Quebec shareholders for their stance.


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