Expos get New Investor

MONTREAL -- Montreal Expos chairman Jacques Menard said Thursday that new investors led by New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria are prepared to buy into the team but said team president Claude Brochu was an obstacle to a deal.

Brochu is recognized as the person in charge of the team by major league baseball. He has been offered about $10 million for his 7.6 percent of the team, which says it can't survive in Montreal without a new stadium.
"We're in a catch-22,"' said Menard, who has asked top officials in major league baseball to convince Brochu to accept the offer. ``We ask them to use their experience to accelerate negotiations with Claude. We're confident we will have their cooperation.''

The Expos also asked that a March 6 deadline to have new ownership and stadium plans in place be pushed back by a few months.
``We have the money, we have three stadium proposals and we have the marketing plan that's the good news,'' said Raymond Bachand, head of the union investment fund Fonds de Solidarite. ``The bad news is that we're paralyzed by the Claude Brochu situation.''

Brochu's office released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he had no comment. One director said Brochu was holding out for more money if stadium plans fall through and the team is sold.

Loria, who Menard said was ready to invest about $50 million for roughly 50 percent interest in the team, was an unsuccessful bidder for the Baltimore Orioles in 1993. Menard said local investors would provide the rest of the money needed to refinance the team, which hopes to get a new stadium in 2002.
``We still need government help,'' said director Jocelyn Proteau of the Desjardins credit union group. ``But I think the proposal is a lot more reasonable now and that's why we believe it's possible for the government to come in.'' Brochu has been unable to help convince government officials to finance a ballpark.
``If we don't come to an agreement in the coming weeks, we might have to throw in the towel,'' Proteau said. `
"That's why we're asking Claude Brochu to be a good citizen and settle this.''

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