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Baseball: Expos move to DC nearing approval?

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posted on Sep, 24 2004 @ 07:23 AM
it is high time that baseball got this mess resolved, too bad that it looks like there will be law suits to delay the move

Baseball to attempt to finalize deal to move Expos to Washington

By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
September 24, 2004

AP - Sep 23, 6:16 pm EDT
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Major league baseball will try to complete negotiations within a week to move the Montreal Expos to Washington next year.

Baseball's executive council met for three hours Thursday in Milwaukee at the offices of baseball commissioner Bud Selig and heard a presentation from the relocation committee. While no formal recommendation was made, the preference of the committee for the downtown Washington group was evident, a high-ranking baseball official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Selig told the council he would move forward to conclude a deal as quickly as possible, the baseball official said, and left a clear impression with the council members that it would be with the group from the nation's capital, which has been competing with a rival offer from Northern Virginia.

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a member of the eight-owner council, reiterated during the meeting that he opposes having a team relocate to downtown Washington, about 40 miles from Baltimore's Camden Yards' ballpark, saying it would take away fans and revenue from his franchise.

Angelos was supported during the meeting by New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan, the official said.

Baseball officials will press ahead with talks with both the Washington group and Angelos, the official said. The move would be the first in the major leagues since the expansion Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers after the 1971 season.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said the meeting was amicable.

``Peter Angelos has made his views known with regard to the effect that he believes a team in the D.C. area will have on the Baltimore Orioles and he articulated those views,'' DuPuy said. ``Mr. Angelos' concerns, which are shared by the commissioner and have been all along, have always been a serious issue.''

Angelos was not available for comment. DuPuy hopes to have a decision by the end of the regular season on Oct. 3.

``I think we're all running out of time,'' he said.

The Expos were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season, and after the relocation decision baseball plans to start the talks to sell the club, which started play in 1969.

Northern Virginia proposed building a stadium in Loudoun County near Dulles International Airport, about 60 miles from Camden Yards.

``I was not expecting a final decision today, and thus am not disappointed by the outcome,'' said Bill Hall, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission's baseball committee. ``I'm encouraged by the statement that the decision will be made by the end the next week, and hope that will be sooner, and remain optimistic that it will be Washington D.C.''

Mark Tuohey, the sports commission chairman, said legislation must be introduced by Oct. 1 for the proposed $13 million renovation of RFK Stadium in order for funding to become law by Dec. 31, when the terms expire for several City Council members who support a Washington baseball team. The legislation would include financing for a ballpark costing slightly more than $400 million, he said.

Under Washington's plan, the Expos would play in RFK Stadium for three seasons before moving to a new ballpark.

Once Selig makes it a decision, it must be approved by all owners and financing for a new ballpark must be finalized. In addition, the Expos' former limited partners say they will attempt to block a move in federal court, and Angelos could attempt legal action.

Virginia's bid has stumbled in recent weeks, partly because Gov. Mark R. Warner will not support a plan to build a ballpark using bonds backed by the ``moral obligation'' of the state.

Warner's spokeswoman, Ellen Qualls, said Thursday that the governor's own concerns about the use of moral obligation bonds, as well as opposition from key legislators, forced him to look for other alternatives.

``He's pushing for a different financing mechanism,'' Qualls said.

Additional bids have been made by Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; and Portland, Ore. While DuPuy said no contenders have been eliminated, baseball has focused on Washington and Northern Virginia since May.

Associated Press Writers Matthew Barakat in McLean, Va., Joseph White in Washington and Juliet Williams in Milwaukee contributed to this report


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