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Baseball To Meet on Expos Move

Owners Have Discussed Payments to Orioles

By Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 18, 2004; Page B01

Major League Baseball's executive committee will meet in Milwaukee next week to discuss the relocation of the Montreal Expos, baseball sources said yesterday.

Commissioner Bud Selig informed the eight committee members -- including Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos -- of the meeting within the past couple of days, the sources said. Angelos has opposed moving the Expos to the Washington area, saying it would drain fans and impair his team's ability to compete.

Baseball President Robert DuPuy did not respond to phone calls and e-mails asking about the coming meeting. Angelos declined to comment.

The meeting does not mean that the Expos' future will be decided next week. But baseball officials have said in recent days that the issue of where to put the Expos is coming to a head and that time is running short to renovate Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium as an interim site for games if the District is chosen as the Expos' new home. The District government also would need time to consider a stadium financing package.

The call for a meeting of the executive committee comes on the heels of a marathon negotiating session this week between District officials and baseball representatives. The 12-hour session Wednesday dealt mostly with the logistics of moving the Expos into RFK, according to several participants. The Expos would play there for three years until a new stadium was built.

Other proposed relocation sites are Loudoun County, Norfolk, Las Vegas, Portland, Ore., and Monterrey, Mexico. The District and Northern Virginia have been receiving most of baseball's attention in recent weeks.

It was unclear yesterday whether next week's meeting would address possible financial packages that the league would offer Angelos if the Expos were moved to the D.C. area.

Baseball executives approached Angelos more than a month ago, meeting with him for several hours in Washington to discuss financial benefits that would accrue to the Orioles if such a move took place, according to baseball sources. They said the discussion centered on teaming the Orioles with the new Washington area franchise to create a regional sports network, from which the Orioles would receive a disproportionate amount of revenue. Angelos was said not to be interested.

Any offer of compensation to Angelos also probably would include an indemnity payment in the tens of millions of dollars, baseball officials have said. The money would come out of baseball's central revenue fund, which distributes the league's national revenue sources to the individual teams.

In addition to Angelos, the executive committee includes owners Jerry McMorris of the Colorado Rockies, Peter Magowan of the San Francisco Giants, Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, Drayton McLane of the Houston Astros, John Ellis of the Seattle Mariners, David Glass of the Kansas City Royals and Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets.

The executive committee holds regularly scheduled sessions but also is called into special sessions when Selig has important issues to address. Some members participate via conference call.

As a further sign that the Expos will not be in Montreal next year, baseball recently notified a Florida court that it would be moving the team after 90 days. It did not specify a date or destination.

Lawyers for the former limited partners of the Expos plan to ask a federal judge to block Major League Baseball from moving the team. In their lawsuit, the 14 limited partners claim that former Expos owners Jeffrey Loria and David Samson -- currently chairman and president, respectively, of the Florida Marlins -- conspired with baseball officials to dilute the minority partners' share of the team from 76 percent to about 7 percent and never intended to keep the franchise in Montreal.

"If we win our arbitration and the court in Miami agrees, there's a good chance that the team might be required to stay in Montreal," Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney for the former Expos owners, said yesterday.

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