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EXPOS PUT TOGETHER BOOSTER COMMITTEE TO RAISE STADIUM FUNDS
Published March 11, 1998
The Expos "unveiled their secret weapon and last, best hope in efforts to raise at least" C$75M in private funds for a new ballpark -- "a salesforce of the city's corporate elite who will try to make Quebec businesses give until it hurts," according to Jonathon Gatehouse of the Montreal GAZETTE. The six-man booster committee, which includes former Canadiens GM Serge Savard, has "less than four months remaining to persuade their friends and associates to pony up" C$42M to keep the team in Montreal. With a June 30 deadline approaching, the Expos have raised C$33M, selling "only" 3,500 of 18,000 PSLs and 35 of 60 corporate boxes for their proposed $250M stadium. Gatehouse writes that corporate support "is key" to Expos President Claude Brochu's efforts to obtain financing for the ballpark. Team officials said that they "are optimistic about the booster committee's chances of succeeding in the boardrooms, where the club has repeatedly failed to sell tickets" (GAZETTE, 3/11). Brochu said that 1,500 of the PSLs sold were the "most expensive" available, selling for C$10,000 each. He also said that 40%-50% of the major corporations in Montreal "have not yet made a contribution," and that "some type of public financing" would be discussed "at a later stage." Brochu: "We will find a method satisfactory to taxpayers, the government and ourselves" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11). REAX: From a Montreal GAZETTE editorial, entitled "Stepping Up To The Plate": "[A PSL] is a small investment for any company that cares about the quality of life in Montreal and the future of the downtown core. ... Losing [MLB] would be an economic blow to the tourism industry, but its biggest impact would be psychological. For a city struggling to regain its former stature, the departure of the Expos would be a defining moment, of the very worst kind" (GAZETTE, 3/11). In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes on the economic troubles of the Expos and NHL Oilers. Brunt: "Do enough people in Montreal give a damn if the Expos stay or go? In the months since the stadium project and the deadline were first made public, the answer has seemed to be no. There hasn't been the sense of urgency, of crisis, that went with the Jets' departure from Winnipeg, or the Oilers' struggles. Interest in the Expos, if you judge by the turnstile count, is at a low ebb" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/11).