Brochu Speaks Out

QUEBEC -- The Expos' future in Montreal grew more uncertain Wednesday.

The Quebec government held to its refusal to use tax money to build a new downtown ballpark, and managing partner Claude Brochu said the team can survive only with government help.

Quebec finance minister Bernard Landry said province's stand had not changed: no tax money for professional sports teams.
``People who earn $50,000 a year don't want to see their taxes used to make life easier for people who earn millions of dollars a month,'' Landry said. ``There are economic spinoffs (to baseball), but that isn't the determining factor.
``It isn't like increasing Quebec's industrial base with aluminum plants. There can't be a solution that is hard on taxpayers.''

Landry said the government is confident it had public backing for its refusal to get involved financially in the ballpark.

It was not news Brochu wanted to hear.
``We're in a really tough situation, make no mistake about it,'' he said at club's training camp in Jupiter, Fla. Brochu said government money is essential.
``To be able to compete with American cities, where on average public support for stadia is in the area of 80 per cent, you can't ask Canadian teams to build their own buildings, worry about foreign exchange, worry about municipal taxes, worry about sales taxes, worry about any number of any other things and be competitive,'' Brochu said. ``It's impossible.''

Premier Lucien Bouchard and Prime Minister Jean Chretien have said they can't help sports teams, although the federal government reportedly is willing to turn over the proposed downtown stadium site for one dollar.

The Expos were told by major league baseball to have a new ownership group and stadium financing in place by March 6, which is Saturday.

Baseball officials said that after Saturday, Brochu has the right to move the Expos out of Montreal ``in the best interests of baseball.''

Asked what will happen after the deadline, Brochu said it was up to major league baseball. But, he said the Expos definitely will be in Montreal this season. Brochu said that he needs a two-thirds vote of the partnership to sell the club. But a two-thirds vote doesn't force him as general partner to sell it.

I am really getting tired of people sacrificing the Expos for their own good. Monday, it was Chretien saying his government was "not in the business of supporting sports teams" and today it's Landry. It's disgusting when Landry says
"People who earn $50,000 a year don't want to see their taxes used to make life easier for people who earn millions of dollars a month,"
Doesn't he realize that this money is not going to the players but will be used to keep the team in Montreal? Of course, he does. This just sounds better. Then he says;
"It isn't like increasing Quebec's industrial base with aluminum plants."
Never mentioning that the Expos employ 10,000 people, that business in and around the stadium depend on the Expos and that player income taxes pump millions into his government's budget yearly. For once, I'd like a politician to do the right thing instead of the best political thing, although that's probably asking for too much.

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