MLB refuses to change deadline

NEW YORK -- The Montreal Expos were denied a request to put off a March 6 deadline for having a new ownership group and stadium financing in place.

Citing a lack of support from Quebec Premier Lucien Brouchard, baseball's chief legal officer, Robert DuPuy said the sport is committed to keeping the Expos in Montreal but that a solution was needed ``to plan with respect to the 2000 season.''
``To date, there has been no commitment for government support to keep the Expos in Montreal,'' DuPuy wrote Thursday to Expos chairman Jacques Menard in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
``On the contrary, Premier Brouchard has reiterated publicly his strong opposition to public financing for a new stadium, and there was no mention of stadium financing in either the national or the provincial budget.''

The Expos say they can't survive in Olympic Stadium and need a new ballpark. But the team has struggled to raise the money.
``The plans for the construction of the stadium remain indefinite, and there appears to be no workable solution to the coverage of the shortfall in the event that the seat license program is not as successful as you have projected,'' DuPuy wrote.

Baseball also is uncomfortable with the fighting in the Expos' ownership group. Team president Claude Brochu is considered by baseball in control of the team but after a stadium financing plan failed last year, Brochu said he was willing to sell his 7.6 percent stake in the team, but he has rejected an offer of about $10 million.

Menard said Feb. 18 that new investors led by New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria are prepared to buy into the team, but said Brochu was an obstacle.
``Jeffrey Loria was not approved by is to come in and replace Claude,'' DuPuy wrote. ``We have received no written understanding from Mr. Loria regarding either his financing or his commitment to keeping the team in Montreal. To leave the impression that we support the ouster of Claude in favor of a new control person is most unfortunate. ... The disparaging remarks made with respect to Claude were absolutely counter to all of our discussions and violated the integrity of the process.''

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