Mid-Atlantic eventually will produce the same number of games for both teams with the same quality of production, a baseball official said. Disputes between the teams will be appealed directly to Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig, who has final say.
"Both teams will be treated equally," one top baseball official said.
The announcement was the culmination of intense negotiations between DuPuy and Angelos that began last September, when baseball announced it would move the Expos to the District after the city agreed to build a new stadium on the banks of the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington. Angelos opposed the move, saying it would damage his franchise financially, and threatened to sue the league to block the move. So the league opened negotiations with him on a compensation package.
The agreement also guarantees that the Orioles will fetch at least $365 million if Angelos chooses to sell, or baseball will make up the difference. Angelos paid $173 million for the club in 1993.
Angelos refused to comment yesterday.
"This agreement, I believe, satisfies the competing interests with which we've had to contend to place a team in the nation's capital," Selig said in a statement. "From the very beginning, I was deeply concerned by the potential material effect this move to Washington, D.C., which is in such close proximity to Baltimore, would have on the Orioles, its ownership and its fan base."
Under the agreement, Mid-Atlantic would pay the Nationals a rights fee and distribute 76 of the club's games to WTTG-5 and WDCA-20, two Fox-owned broadcast stations in Washington. Most of the rest of the games are targeted for satellite and cable stations, if they agree to carry the sports network. Baseball met yesterday with representatives from Comcast to discuss carrying Mid-Atlantic on a Comcast channel, but details of the discussions could not be learned.
The team's opener on Monday against the Phillies will be shown on Channel 20.
Washington area homes receiving cable or satellite transmissions would get most of the 162 Nationals games, including the 76 broadcasted on either WTTG or WDCA, with WDCA airing the majority of the games. Households receiving conventional broadcast transmissions would be able to view only the 76 Fox-owned games.
Selig, whose decision to bring the Nationals to Washington strained his relationship with Angelos, praised the Orioles owner yesterday for "his desire to preserve and protect the Baltimore franchise now, and for future generations. His concerns, which he expressed often and well, were not about himself or his ownership interest, but rather to establish a means by which to ensure the future viability of the Orioles franchise."