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Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau yesterday said he would not support a taxpayer-funded bailout of the Nordiques. Parizeau told the Quebec National Assembly that he would like to keep the team in the province's capital city, "but has no intentions of handing out millions of taxpayers' dollars." Parizeau: "The hockey industry, if I can call it that, has been terribly managed over the last few years. Players salary increases, along with other expenses are so rampant that for seven or eight teams, and maybe as many as 10 or 12, you have to wonder what their chances are of succeeding in relatively small markets" (Rheal Seguin, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/7). Nordiques Owner Marcel Aubut wants government help to finance a new C$125M arena and to pay the team's annual deficits (estimated at C$10M this year) until the facility is completed. Aubut has given the government a May deadline. Parizeau says he will announce his government intentions within a month, with a lottery as a possible revenue- maker. Parizeau, interviewed on a pre-game hockey talk show, said the government "would consider pumping some money into the team if private interests were also investing" (Andy Riga, Montreal GAZETTE, 4/7). VOTE DELAYED: Parizeau has confirmed that he will not put Quebec separation on the ballot this spring. Support for separation from Canada "seldom tops" 45% in polls (Charles Trueheart, WASHINGTON POST, 4/7). Many believe a vote for secession could damage both the bid for a new arena and Quebec City's chances for landing the 2002 Games.
Two sources say the Rams' latest offer to the NFL to allow them to move to St. Louis is worth nearly $40M, according to Jim Thomas in this morning's ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Rams President John Shaw "would neither confirm or deny" that figure, but said yesterday, "It's a lot of money, isn't it? Most of it's up front, more than 50 percent of it." The team offered the NFL $25M three weeks ago at the NFL meetings in Phoenix, but owners voted it down 21-3. The owners reportedly wanted $50M. Shaw increased the offer on March 27-28 in meetings with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Shaw says he has not spoken with Tagliabue since then and doesn't expect to until the commissioner returns from a European vacation in time for Wednesday's NFL owners meeting in Dallas. Shaw said he didn't know if the Rams move would be voted on at that meeting: "There might be other issues discussed; I think there might be other alternatives discussed" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/7).
The Winnipeg City Council is scheduled to vote April 19 on a zoning amendment that would allow the Manitoba Entertainment Complex (MEC) to build a new arena for the Jets. If the zoning for the facility is approved, Mayor Susan Thompson says the council will look at the MEC's final business plan for approval of the project on April 28. The MEC, a group of local business leaders, has until May 1 to submit a deposit to buy the Jets and keep them in Winnipeg (Nick Martin, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 4/7).