John Akridge, leader of an effort to obtain a baseball team for RFK Stadium, yesterday identified his investor group and said he would attempt to contact Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman this week about purchasing that club.
Bronfman put the Expos up for sale last spring, but he has been limiting the bidding to local investors who would keep it in Montreal. No such groups have come forward, though, and Bronfman said he would begin entertaining offers from U.S. interests after Sept. 1.
"It's time to make a phone call," Akridge said. "I want to go see the man and speak to him face-to-face about what his intentions and conditions are. If we can work out something acceptable, great. If we can't, at least we will have asked."
Akridge's newly unveiled investors are Howard M. Bender, chairman of the board of the Blake Construction Co.; Stanley S. Bender, vice president of Blake Construction; Republican National Committee interim chairman Charles Black and Paul Manafort, partners in a Alexandria lobbying and public relations firm; Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown, an attorney whose law partners include Bart Fisher, one the investors in Mark Tracz's group also seeking an expansion team for the area; Charles P. Cocke, a Reston accountant and businessman; Robert L. Cohen, president of Barnes, Morris and Pardoe real estate; Melvyn J. Estrin, a Bethesda businessman and corporate dealmaker; Allyn E. Kilsheimer, president of KCE Structural Engineers; Gilbert H. Kinney, a Washington art collector and trustee of the Corcoran Gallery; John M. McMahon, president of Miller and Long Co., a constuction firm; and Nicholas G. Paleologos, vice president of Miller and Long.
Previously announced as investors were Robert Pincus, president of Sovran Bank; Donald Dell, chairman of the board of the Arlington-based sports marketing and management firm ProServ; and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
Akridge also said his group would submit its application for one of the two expansion teams the National League will add in 1993 by today's noon deadline. Tracz, leader of a separate Washington-area group that would like to intially locate a team at RFK Stadium, then move to a new facility in Northern Virginia, said his group also has arranged for the delivery of its response to the NL Expansion Committee's questionnaire and $100,000 deposit on the $95 million entry fee by the deadline.
Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent has said he would like to see the Expos remain in Montreal, and Bronfman has had club president Claude Brochu working to achieve that goal. Brochu is scheduled to give Bronfman and the club's board of directors a status report today.
"We'll see then if I need more time," Brochu said Friday. "I don't intend to ask for a lot. We have the support. That's certain."
Last week, Brochu announced the club had concluded multiyear sponsorship agreements with Labatt's, a major brewery, and Petro Canada, a petroleum manufacturer, that have a combined value of about $37 million (U.S. currency). Akridge said he has "no idea" how much his group would be willing to offer for the Expos, but he said if Bronfman wants to sell for $85 million, "I think we can do business. I certainly think they're worth that."
Asked if his group would be willing to pay $100 million, Akridge said: "That's pushing it pretty hard. We'd have to look at the hard numbers to see."
But he said he would like to purchase an existing team because "it's my preference to just go out and buy what you're going to buy and do what you're going to do, as opposed to going through the expansion process, which to some extent is a political exercise."
A group from Miami reportedly has offered $135 million for the Expos. Frozen-food magnate and Class AAA Buffalo Bisons owner Bob Rich is said to have expressed an interest in the club. Lake Placid, N.Y.-businessman and Class AAA Phoenix Firebirds owner Martin Stone also has been mentioned as a possible buyer.