Expos Owners Meet

By Dan Arnold

The Expos ownership group and a few notable "guests" met on Thursday for their monthly meetings. Menard then talked with the press and went on a few radio shows afterwards to recount the days events. Among the comments which are nice to hear if you're an Expos fan:

"We have never been this close". Menard went on to say that the Expos survival odds were up to 60% and "rising fast".

The big news out of the meeting was the precense of Stephen Bronfman, son of former Expos owner Charles Bronfman who has reportedly agreed to come on board to help the team, and of Jeffrey Loria who is the other big player who is set to help the team. This was the first time that Loria offcially met with the Expos ownership consortium. It looks like Loria, Bronfman, Jean Coutu and Loblaws (a grocery store chain) will be joining the current Expos consortium minus Claude Brochu. This group will be very hard for MLB to turn down since Bronfman and Loria are well respected around MLB and Bronfman and Coutu are VERY, VERY rich. Charles Bronfman is on the 200 richest people in the world list and Coutu is a billionnaire I believe. Here are some other points which came out of the meetings:

Labatt Park: The stadium will cost around 200 million cnd to build and it will not include a roof. It will not be very fancy but hey, neither is Wrigley field as Menard reminded us. In addition, the capacity will be closer to 40,000 which is good since it should still be intimate but Montreal will easily pack it every night.

The land: Menard said a deal was in the works for the land which Labatt Park will be built on. He said to expect an announcement within 10 days but we've heard this a lot so I don't know if we can honestly expect an announcement anytime soon. The point is that they've reached a land deal in principle.

The payroll: The Expos payroll will reportedly be as follows over the next few years-
1999 : 18 mil$
2000 : 30 (in Big O)
2001 : 48 (in Big O)
2002 : > 50 (in Labatt Park)

Looks like there may be a little room to get a free agent in the off-season if the numbers are correct. The Expos could try to land former Expos (and soon to be free agents) David Segui or Henry Rodriguez or they could try to grab a veteran starter. I guess we can talk this over for those of you who are signed up for ExposTalk (e-mail me if you're interested in joining). < p> The attendance: Menard expects 700,000 fans this year and he expects that number to double to 1.4 million next season. That number would be higher if the Expos are in contention of course.

Misc: The Expos will name a plaza outside Labatt Park after Jackie Robinson. Menard also confirmed that he has no control over the Expos current marketing which has come under fire lately. The marketing is still being controled by Brochu.

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