Panel winding down analysis of cities' bids for Expos franchise

Selig likely to get report on 7 rivals within month

May 20, 2004|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- After sifting through "mounds and mounds" of material from the contenders to be the new home of the Montreal Expos, Major League Baseball's relocation committee plans to complete its analysis of all seven sites within the next month.

No candidate was eliminated yesterday, and the merits of each proposal will be presented to commissioner Bud Selig, according to Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer.

"We believe that we are in position, or will be very shortly, to meet with the commissioner to share our analysis of the offers," DuPuy said yesterday after the first day of the owners' regular quarterly meeting.

"And we will be guided by his advice with regard to the next steps that the committee will take."

DuPuy said he was "entirely confident the Expos will play somewhere other than Montreal for the 2005 season."

DuPuy said the committee, which met for 2 1/2 hours yesterday at baseball's Park Avenue offices, was still being "inundated" with materials from the communities that want the Expos.

"We received materials Monday of this week, we received materials [Tuesday] and we received some materials [yesterday] morning," he said.

The committee will not choose a top contender, he added.

"The information will not be ranked in terms of `this is our first choice, this is our second choice,' " DuPuy said. "It will be an attempt to lay it out as close as possible, apples to apples, since there are different features in a number of the offers. That's the sort of thing we are trying to work on.

"Our job is to sift through the mounds of material and mounds of information that we've received, and present all that to the commissioner for his consideration, because ultimately he will be the one who will recommend a choice to the Executive Council."

Contenders for the Expos are Washington; Northern Virginia; Las Vegas; Portland, Ore.; Norfolk, Va.; Monterrey, Mexico, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. This year, as they did in 2003, the Expos are playing 22 "home" games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan.

The relocation buzz has grown in the past two weeks in anticipation of the owners' meeting. Members of the relocation committee, including MLB executive vice president of administration John McHale Jr. and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, made a high-profile visit to Washington on May 6, meeting for nearly 1 1/2 hours with D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

During that meeting, which was perceived by many as showing that Washington is a front-runner for the Expos, Williams showed off plans for a new 41,000-seat, $430 million stadium that would be built with public funds.

Previously, Washington's stadium plan had required a $125 million contribution from the team's owners, but baseball balked at that.

Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he has loudly opposed putting a franchise in Washington or Northern Virginia for as long as he has owned the team.

"I have said it before and I'll say it again: Two major league franchises within 35 miles of each other spells mediocrity for both," he said in April, when Washington's latest stadium plan was unveiled.

Yesterday, DuPuy said it wasn't just Angelos who was worried about the effect a team in Washington would have on the Orioles.

"The commissioner has stated from Day One it has nothing to do with the Orioles' objections," he said. "The commissioner has stated that he has grave concerns about the impact that locating a franchise in a particular community might have on other franchises in other communities. And obviously putting a team in Northern Virginia or Washington would have an impact on the Baltimore franchise."

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