When it was hard to find a buyer for the Montreal Expos

The Montreal Expos had lost a lot of money during their first 22 years in the majors. That's why their owner was looking to sell.

In 1990, Charles Bronfman was looking to sell team after two-plus decades of ownership

On Sept. 1, 1990, Knowlton Nash describes the long effort to try to find a buyer for the Montreal Expos. 0:17

Twenty-nine years ago, the Montreal Expos had spent months looking for a new owner — and their hope was to find one in Quebec.

That didn't happen and so, by the end of the season, the organization was expanding the search for a new owner well beyond la belle province.

"Today, the team goes on sale to anyone in North America who wants it," the CBC's Knowlton Nash told viewers on The National on Sept. 1, 1990.

And there was concern as to whether a new owner would move the team out of Montreal.

The push to sell the Expos came after the team had lost a combined $42 million over the years, according to what The National reported on air. 

A 'love affair' that was over?

Charles Bronfman (seen at right) was reported to be seeking $100 million for the Montreal Expos in 1990. The photo above shows the then-owner standing alongside manager Buck Rodgers (left) at spring training that year. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Charles Bronfman, the majority owner of the Expos, was reportedly seeking $100 million for the franchise. That was one-tenth the price he'd paid for it originally.

"Like the city, his love affair with the Expos is over," said reporter Scott Russell, when summarizing the situation to viewers.

Claude Brochu, the team president, was working hard to find a way of keeping the Expos on the diamond at Olympic Stadium.

He'd secured $43 million in sponsorship funds, which he said was a reason to be optimistic about the team's future.

"This represents the first major step in reassuring and positively influencing those investors who will be making an important decision this week," Brochu said. 

The team was sold...

Montreal, Expos, Charles Bronfman, Claude Brochu, money, funds, millions, Quebec, 1:24

A sale, which was finalized the following year, would be eventually made to a group of investing partners that included Brochu, other individuals and various corporations. The provincial government also provided a loan to the team.

"I remember the days of Montreal Royals at Delorimier Stadium, going down there on the weekend for double-headers," said Mark Routenberg, who became one of the Expos' minority owners at that time.

"And I definitely believe that Montreal, being a major city, can support Major League Baseball," he added.

... but the team still left eventually

But the Expos would not last in Montreal, despite the long-term efforts to keep the country's first-ever Major League Baseball team on Canadian soil.

In the years to come, Brochu would try to see the team moved to a new stadium. In 1997, he predicted that if the Expos did not relocate to a downtown venue, the team would leave.

The Expos stayed in Montreal through the 2004 season. The franchise then moved to Washington, D.C., and is now known as the Nationals.