O's owner on Nats: `We definitely want them to succeed'

April 10, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,Sun Reporter

Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who once fought to keep a team out of Washington, said yesterday that he hopes the Nationals are successful and doesn't mind if Orioles fans occasionally slip away to catch a game at the new stadium.

"There's no law against visiting the other franchise," Angelos said in an interview with The Sun. "One's a National League city and one's an American League city."

Angelos had once argued the region couldn't support two franchises.

"Originally, I said [Washington and Baltimore] were very close to each other," Angelos said. "But nonetheless, it is the nation's capital, and the team is there, and it ought to be supported, and hopefully, both franchises will provide successful baseball."

Angelos negotiated with Major League Baseball for the television rights to Nationals games before the club's arrival in Washington before the 2005 season. He said securing those rights was critical to ensuring the long-term viability of his club. The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is owned primarily by the Orioles, with the Nationals having a minority stake.

"We definitely want them to succeed," Angelos said of the Nats. "We're partners in the MASN baseball network, and we have an excellent relationship with the Lerner family [which owns the Nationals] and with [team president] Stan Kasten, who is an old friend of mine."

Angelos said he was impressed with the new stadium, which opened March 30 with President Bush throwing out the first pitch. The Orioles played an exhibition against the Nationals on March 29, which was the first major league game at the park.

"I think the park is going to be very popular. Some of the features are really good," Angelos said.

The Nationals' second regular-season game at the park drew an announced 20,487 -- fewer than what might be expected at a new stadium -- but Angelos said it's too early in the season to make judgments.

The Orioles had a record-low announced crowd of 10,505 for a game last week.

"That's an example of the weather having a very depressing effect on attendance," the owner said. "We would have had very substantial crowds, the way we've been playing, had it not been for the weather."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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