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Expos Negotiate for New Lease

November 20, 2001

MONTREAL (AP) _ Even though they’re far from certain about returning for another season, the Montreal Expos are trying to make Olympic Stadium a better baseball stadium.

Claude Delorme, the team’s vice president of development and stadium operations, said Tuesday negotiations to replace the current lease _ which expires on Nov. 30 _ are taking place with the provincial government agency that operates Olympic Stadium.

``There are a series of issues, from a new playing surface to other operational issues, that we’re trying to put into play,″ Delorme said.

``I want to try to resolve all the issues before I can say that we’ve completed these negotiations, but they’ve been ongoing for the past seven months. And the playing surface has always been at the root of these discussions.″

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said two weeks ago that two teams, one almost certainly the Expos, will be eliminated before next season. However, the plan is running into legal obstacles.

Delorme thought Selig’s announcement had little impact on the lease negotiations.

``There would be a bit less uncertainty in dealing with our suppliers,″ Delorme said. ``Other than that, I think everyone understood the Expos’ situation before coming into play, anyway.″

The Expos want the 13-year-old artificial surface replaced with a softer carpet, but the board will do that only if the team gives assurances it will be in Montreal for the long term.

``We have two interesting options to consider,″ Delorme said. ``One is a permanent structure, and one is a removable surface. We’re considering both those options in light of the obligations of the Olympic Installations Board. At the end of the day, we’re going to make a decision. They’re both competitive offers.″

The Expos bring in only about $500,000 a season to the board, which earns as much from a one-week trade show at the stadium. The board plans to attract more trade shows if the Expos fold.

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