The Quebec Nordiques are making a last-gasp effort to stay i
QUEBEC (AP) _ The Quebec Nordiques are making a last-gasp effort to stay in Canada instead of moving to Denver.
Club president Marcel Aubut planned to meet with Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau today. Aubut has vowed to reopen talks on a casino or some other means for the public to pay for a new rink and absorb the team’s debts.
Parizeau has won public approval for resisting Aubut’s demands, and neither side has budged in a week of talks between Aubut and government negotiator Andre Joli-Coeur.
While Parizeau, leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois, and Aubut, a prominent federalist, are holding what promises to be a tense meeting, the Nordiques look increasingly destined to move to Colorado.
The Rocky Mountain News in Denver reported Wednesday there was speculation a news conference would be held as early as Friday announcing the sale of the team.
Executives from Comsat Video Enterprises, who have offered $75 million for the Nordiques, apparently were booked on flights to Denver from their head office in the Washington area.
Unlike the reaction in Winnipeg, there has been little public outcry about the Nordiques’ proposed move. A fan club rally at the legislature drew only 300 people last week.
Aubut asked to meet Parizeau last week after refusing a government offer to cover $14 million of the club’s debts over the next two years, during which time studies would determine if a new arena were feasible.
The province also wanted to pay $17.5 million for the shares of the team held by Aubut and his partner, Marcel Dutil.
That would allow the province to recoup its investment if the team eventually needs to be sold and would also remove Aubut from the picture.
The team’s five shareholders agreed when they bought the club from Molson O’Keefe breweries in 1988 that a unanimous vote of the board was required to move the team to another city.
The board last week voted unanimously to reject the government offer and gave Aubut a mandate to make the call on whether to sell or hold onto the team.
Aubut wants a casino or a special lottery to raise funds for a new 19,000-seat arena and to cover debts that are likely to accrue while operating a major sports team in a small market.
The Nordiques expect to lose more than $22 million over the next two seasons.