A report that the Montreal Expos will likely be relocated to the Washington area for the 2005 season was met with surprise yesterday from officials of the two groups seeking to bring the club to the capital region.
ESPN.com, citing sources familiar with the relocation process, said that Major League Baseball Players Association leaders Donald Fehr and Gene Orza met Wednesday with two Montreal player representatives and told them that there is an overwhelming probability that they will wind up in either Washington or Northern Virginia.
The story also said of the remaining contenders - Las Vegas; Norfolk, Va.; Portland, Ore.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Monterrey, Mexico - only Las Vegas was still in contention.
Fehr told The Washington Post yesterday that no one gave the Expos players "assurances that they will be going to any location as opposed to anyplace else. People can make their own judgments on that, but we didn't make it for them."
Winston Lord, executive director of the Washington Baseball Club, which would put the team in the District, and Jerry Burkot, executive director of the Virginia Baseball Club, each said yesterday that their groups had heard nothing from Major League Baseball. Burkot's group plans to build a stadium near Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County.
Both groups would have a team play at RFK Stadium in Washington while building a new ballpark.
Patrick Courtney, a spokesman for MLB, strongly said that no decision on the Expos had been reached.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who opposes a team in the capital region, could not be reached for comment after the ESPN.com story was posted. Earlier in the day, at an interview in his downtown law firm, he gave no indication that he was aware of any new developments regarding relocation.
During last week's All-Star festivities in Houston, Bob DuPuy, baseball's president and chief operating officer and the man in charge of finding a new home for the Expos, said "a good working goal" for a decision would be the owners' meeting scheduled for Aug. 17-20 in Philadelphia.