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A Deal's a Deal, Selig Tells District

Baseball Owners Plan to Approve Team's Move to Washington Today

By David Nakamura and Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page B01

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday that the league would not reopen negotiations with District officials over the terms of a signed agreement to build a stadium in Southeast Washington, even though city leaders intend to push for additional concessions.

Selig added that baseball's owners probably will vote today on a proposal to move a team from Montreal to Washington to become the Nationals. The owners are expected to approve the measure over the long-standing objections of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, baseball sources said.

Commissioner Bud Selig says baseball owners will live up to their deal with the District and probably will approve the move from Montreal to Washington today. (Gerald Herbert -- AP)

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After addressing a luncheon attended by nearly 1,000 members of the Greater Washington Board of Trade at a Dupont Circle hotel, Selig told reporters that the city should abide by the commitment Mayor Anthony A. Williams made in September for a publicly financed stadium along the Anacostia River.

"We have made a deal," Selig said. "Certainly, you have every right to expect that we'll live up to our end of the deal. So, you know, a deal's been made, and I'm satisfied that the deal that both sides agreed to will take place."

The D.C. Council voted 6 to 4 Tuesday to give preliminary approval for the financing plan, but Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and two other members abstained. Their votes could alter the council's final vote on the baseball legislation Dec. 14.

Cropp said that Williams (D) had agreed to go back to baseball and seek changes to several provisions in the stadium agreement, although the mayor might not be able do so before the final vote because of scheduling conflicts.

Cropp sat next to Selig at the luncheon and momentarily donned a red Nationals cap.

"I asked him to get together and talk about the issues and concerns I had, and I shared some of the issues," Cropp said of her chat with Selig.

She huddled briefly later with baseball Executive Vice President John McHale Jr. She said McHale indicated that baseball would be flexible about discussing the city's ideas to find private money to help pay for the stadium.

But Cropp also has asked Williams to lobby baseball officials on several other issues. Perhaps the most important would limit the compensatory damages the city would have to pay baseball if the stadium is not completed by March 2008.

Cropp said she did not have time to discuss that issue specifically with Selig yesterday.

"The way I broached that is I told them there are certain issues that are of great concern to the District and hope we can open a discussion on the issues," Cropp said. "Without coming to a conclusion, he said . . . there would probably be a dialogue."

Williams was in Indianapolis yesterday for a meeting of the National League of Cities.

Mayoral spokesman Chris Bender said Williams understands Selig's insistence that the city live up the contract agreement. But Bender stressed that the mayor intends to keep his pledge to meet with Cropp and take her concerns to baseball officials.

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