Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said yesterday he will push for final passage of legislation to transfer ownership of RFK Stadium from the federal government to the District in time to help Washington's case for a baseball team at a Nov. 7-8 major league committee meeting in New York.
"We have to get our house in order on that subject of ownership to get what we want from that meeting," D.C. City Council Member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), chairman of the D.C. Baseball Commission, told Warner at a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday. "The clock is ticking."
Mayor Marion Barry testified, "For a team to commit to Washington, the District must have clear authority to offer adequate use of the stadium."
Warner said he knew of no objections to the stadium transfer legislation and will work for Senate approval of a bill passed by the House in June, so the measure can go directly to the president's desk without requiring a conference of House and Senate members to negotiate differences.
He also said he planned to talk with President Reagan about the legislation.
"I think the president will be supportive," Warner said while chairing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on public lands. "I think he would kind of like to throw out the first ball."
The federal and city governments split the $19.8 million cost of constructing the stadium, built in 1961, and the District paid for an additional $12.8 million in interest costs, but it is owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's office this week released a list of factors that will be considered when the Long Range Planning Committee of the major leagues meets in November on expanding the leagues.
The list stated that private ownership of a stadium is preferred, which would not be the case in D.C. with or without the pending legislation, a detail that wasn't mentioned at yesterday's hearing.
Washington is one of 12 cities seeking teams that received the guidelines from Ueberroth in preparation for the New York meeting.
The District is the only city where Congress has become involved in efforts to gain a baseball team, because of the federal government's unique relationship with the city.