It's official, but obstacles and decisions still remain

Questions and answers

Baseball Returns To Washington

September 30, 2004|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

Questions and answers about the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington:

So, is this absolutely, positively going to happen?

Well, it sure seems that way. Lots of perfectly good champagne was wasted in Washington yesterday if it turns out not to be true. But possible bumps in the road remain.

Such as?

Washington's 13-member city council must approve the deal struck by the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and Major League Baseball. In Washington's recent primary election, three council members who support the deal lost to candidates who are opposed to public financing for stadiums. The new council members take office in January.

The District could also face difficulty obtaining all of the land necessary to build the new ballpark.

Another possible bump is a federal lawsuit filed in Miami against former Expos owner Jeffrey Loria by his former limited partners. The ex-partners contend that Loria and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig conspired to destroy the Expos' value.

And last, but certainly not least, Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos must be satisfied.

What will that take?

Angelos and MLB President and Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy have been discussing guarantees on the Orioles' revenues, the club's future resale value, and the creation of a regional sports network that would broadcast both the Orioles' and the Washington team's games but funnel most of the revenue to the Orioles for an undetermined number of years.

Angelos also wants to make sure the state's investment in the publicly financed Oriole Park at Camden Yards is protected.

What will the Washington team be called?

The Senators and the Nationals are possibilities. The Texas Rangers, who were the Senators before moving to the Dallas area after the 1971 season, still own the rights to that name.

Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams suggested yesterday naming the team the Washington Grays - a tribute to the Negro leagues' Homestead Grays, who won nine championships in Washington in the 1930s and 1940s.

Where will the team play?

For the first three years, at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Built in 1962, it's the home of the D.C. United soccer team and former home of the Washington Redskins and the Senators.

The team would then move into a new stadium on the Anacostia River in southeast Washington.

The stadium would seat about 41,000, with 74 luxury suites and 2,000 club-level seats. (By comparison, Camden Yards seats about 48,000, with 72 suites and more than 6,200 club seats.)

Washington's new stadium would cost about $400 million and would be paid for with bonds backed by a gross receipts tax on major businesses and a tax on ballpark tickets, concessions, merchandise and parking. The team would cover the facility's operating cost and pay rent averaging $5.5 million over a 30-year term.

Who will own the team?

MLB said yesterday that it wants to have new ownership in place for next season. The Washington Baseball Club signed an exclusive agreement with the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission in January 2002 to work together to bring baseball back to Washington.

But Major League Baseball is under no obligation to sell the team to Washington Baseball, which is led by Frederic V. Malek, a former partner in the Texas Rangers with George W. Bush. MLB will almost certainly auction the team to the highest acceptable bidder.

Will Frank Robinson still be the manager?

That will be up to the new owners. The Expos' general manager, Omar Minaya, has reportedly taken a job with the New York Mets as head of baseball operations.

Will Major League Baseball attempt to schedule the Washington team at home while the Orioles are on the road, and vice versa?

That's what MLB attempts to do in the other two-team markets. It might not happen next season because the tentative schedule has been drafted.

How does someone get information about the relocated team?

Major League Baseball has added a Web site that contains facts about the franchise. Go to www.dcbaseball.com. For information about the former Montreal Expos, visit http://montreal. expos.mlb.com.

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