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MLB Group In Area Today

By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2004; Page D05

Major League Baseball representatives led by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf are expected to be in Washington today and Wednesday for further negotiations with groups trying to bring the Montreal Expos to either the District or Northern Virginia.

The league is narrowing its focus to the Washington area while also keeping Las Vegas and Norfolk as second-tier relocation options for the Expos, which baseball plans to move before next season. Baseball's 29 owners purchased the Expos in February 2002 and have been subsidizing the team with millions annually since.

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Reinsdorf, who heads a baseball relocation subcommittee focused on the Washington area, is expected to meet with members of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission for several hours today and with members of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority at length tomorrow, according to sources.

All the stadium bids are in various forms of completion, and baseball is trying to move the process along so it can recommend a candidate to Commissioner Bud Selig before the end of September or, at the latest, by the end of the World Series. The Northern Virginia bid was set back two weeks ago when a leading lawmaker expressed reservations about the state's willingness to guarantee the stadium's bonds. The District has yet to enact its own stadium financing legislation, which has also hurt its chances.

Baseball officials have privately expressed concerns over whether Las Vegas, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and Norfolk are large enough to support a major league franchise.

Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy said at a meeting of owners in Philadelphia last week that baseball was keeping its options open, including the possibility of moving the Expos to Portland, Ore., and Monterrey, Mexico. Other cities have expressed interest in recent weeks, but the Washington area, Las Vegas and Norfolk appear to be furthest along with their bids.

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos opposes a Washington area team because he said it will dilute the market and financially impair both franchises. Angelos favors moving the Expos to Norfolk.


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