Even though he said that moving his team is a third and distant option, Chicago White Sox co-owner Jerry Reinsdorf toured RFK Stadium last Friday and met with officials of the D.C. Baseball Commission.
Chicago sources said Reinsdorf is using Washington, Denver and other cities as leverage to force the city of Chicago to build his team a stadium.
James Dalrymple, general manager of RFK Stadium, said he regarded the tour only as a chance to show an owner -- and member of major league baseball's Long Range Planning Committee -- what RFK has to offer.
"Robert Pincus [a member of the D.C. Baseball Commission] is a friend of Reinsdorf's, and he called and said he was bringing someone over to see the stadium," Dalrymple said. "He just sort of slipped in and out."
Reinsdorf told The Washington Post several weeks ago he didn't want to move the White Sox, but that "we want to know all our options. One thing we know is we can't stay at Comiskey Park."
Pincus said Reinsdorf was exploring alternatives to Chicago and "Washington is one of the cities he is looking at."
The White Sox say Comiskey Park is the most expensive-to-maintain stadium in baseball, and they support Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's proposal for a new $255 million downtown stadium. The mayor wants the Chicago Bears of the NFL to play in the new stadium, too. Reinsdorf met with Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson Tuesday to tell him he is frustrated that there still is no financing plan for the stadium.
Reinsdorf said that, if he becomes convinced the downtown stadium won't be built, he'll explore building a stadium in Addison, a suburb 30 miles west of downtown Chicago. Reinsdorf's company, Balcor/American Express, owns 100 acres there.
"They [city of Chicago officials] have asked us for more time because they want the Bears to share it with us," Reinsdorf told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We have given them time, but things are moving along so slowly we have to bring this to a head. We have to know shortly if a stadium is feasible with either the Bears or another NFL team. If not, we'll have to explore Addison."
Asked about his interest in Washington, D.C., Reinsdorf told the Sun-Times: "No comment." He did not return phone calls to The Washington Post Wednesday.
Even if he wanted to move the White Sox to Washington, he'd have to get 75 percent approval from other American League owners, and it's unlikely they would approve an AL team so close to the Baltimore Orioles.