WASHINGTON - The Major League Baseball club expected to play here may not have a name or a stadium financing plan, but yesterday it announced its manager for 2005 and collected deposits from about 10,000 fans who had registered - some more than a year ago - to become its first season-ticket holders.
The club, formerly the Montreal Expos, said that Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, a longtime Oriole, has agreed to a one-year contract to manage for a fourth season with the team.
In three seasons in Montreal, Robinson, who became baseball's first African-American manager with the Cleveland Indians in 1975, went 233-253.
Robinson will manage at RFK Stadium, where he hit grand slams in consecutive plate appearances with the Orioles in 1970 off a pair of Washington Senators pitchers.
As the club was announcing the former outfielder's return, about 10,000 fans were putting down $300 deposits to guarantee season tickets at RFK, which will be the team's temporary home while a new, 41,000-seat stadium is constructed on the Anacostia River waterfront.
The D.C. Council is scheduled to vote Nov. 30 on a stadium financing plan proposed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams. As part of the deal, the council must approve at least $13 million to renovate RFK.
Yesterday's moves came as MLB owners, in Chicago for their quarterly meeting, declined to finalize the franchise's relocation.
Most of the season tickets locked in yesterday were for lower-level seats close to the field - the stadium's most expensive. Tickets for an 81-game package range from $7 to $40 for box and reserved seats to $90 for the best in the house. Fans can buy up to eight seats at once.
Fans who registered by early this month - there were about 21,000 - will get preference in seating assignments. The fans could have registered at any of three Web sites: the Expos site, the MLB site or the site of a local group hoping to own the team. The fans have until next Wednesday to put down their deposits.
Full season-ticket holders will get a slight discount compared to those who buy single-game seats.
There was some confusion when the 21,000 fans were invited Wednesday to begin submitting their deposits a day ahead of schedule. Ticket officials said the club jumped the gun only to spread out the processing of deposits, not to create a mad rush.
"Those people who got in early have no advantage," said a club official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Everybody in the group is in the same kitty."
Fans who didn't pre-register could submit their season-ticket deposits beginning yesterday at www.dcbaseball.com.
The team isn't taking orders yet for partial ticket plans, group tickets and single-game tickets.
The club doesn't yet have a ticket sales center. The site is expected to open near RFK Stadium early next month. The club will also soon sell tickets through Ticketmaster.