PITTSBURGH, SEPT. 13 -- National League Expansion Committee Chairman Douglas Danforth said today he believes Washington's two prospective ownership groups will want to focus on stadium arrangements, history and recent changes in the area's demographics when they make their presentations to the committee Wednesday in New York.
"Each city will have different things they want to emphasize," Danforth said after baseball's owners completed two days of meetings here. "I suspect the groups in Washington will want to address stadium, history -- why other teams didn't make it there before -- and changes in demographics" that have occurred since the Senators departed for Texas after the 1971 season. That club was the second to leave Washington. The original Senators moved to Minnesota after the 1960 season.
Baseball's meetings concluded with Robert Nederlander being unanimously approved to become the Yankees' general partner, American League President Bobby Brown receiving a two-year contract extension he said will be his last, and Commissioner Fay Vincent saying there is "no friction" between him and NL President Bill White.
In addition, Vincent said there had been a "significant" meeting between representatives of the two leagues concerning the conflict over whether AL owners should receive any of the $190 million in entry fees NL owners stand to collect from the league's two-team expansion in 1993. Danforth, the Pirates' chairman and chief executive officer, said he and the Padres' Tom Warner represented the NL, and the Brewers' Bud Selig and the Orioles' Eli Jacobs represented the AL.
Nothing has been resolved, but Danforth expressed optimism an agreement can be reached. "I'm not losing any sleep over that," he said. "I don't foresee it being a big problem."
Vincent said it is an issue the leagues should resolve themselves, "in part because . . . it keeps any sort of league antagonism or parochialism from sprouting."
In the meantime, he said, "I have tried to keep away from that issue on the theory that we may want to agree on how information will come to me at a time I may be required to make a decision."
In another matter relating to expansion, Danforth revealed the expansion committee's schedule for presentations from prospective ownership groups. He said groups representing Denver, Buffalo, Miami and Sacramento will appear before the committee on Tuesday, those representing Washington, Orlando and Charlotte on Wednesday and those representing Tampa-St. Petersburg and Phoenix on Sept. 28. All the presentations will take place in New York.
He said a group representing Vancouver had been granted an extension on the deadline for responding to the committee's questionnaire, but that neither it nor the group that is proposing to divide its home games among four cities has yet been scheduled to make a presentation.
Danforth said the committee -- whose other members are White, the Mets' Fred Wilpon and the Astros' John McMullen -- generally will focus on groups' financial forecasts (which presumably will include television and radio rights projections), the kind of public support they are receiving and their individual investors.
The leaders of Washington's two groups expressed little surprise at Danforth's general comments or those concerning Washington.
"Nothing in it surprises me at all," said Mark Tracz, whose group wants to initially play in RFK Stadium and then locate in Northern Virginia.
"Those are things we are prepared to talk to," said John Akridge, whose group wants to locate a team permanently at RFK Stadium.
Nederlander, 57, is president of the Nederlander Organization, a theatrical production and management company. He takes over from Jack Lawn, who has been serving as acting general partner since George Steinbrenner resigned Aug. 20 as part of an agreement he made after Vincent found his payment of $40,000 to self-described gambler Howard Spira was not in the best interest of baseball.
Speaking at length with the media for the first time since he became the Yankees' nominee for general partner, Nederlander said many of the same things Steinbrenner said when he bought the club in 1973. But Nederlander refused to be drawn into comparing the way he plans to run the club with the way Steinbrenner did.
"Whatever Mr. Steinbrenner did, he did," Nederlander said. "I intend to operate the business the way I want to operate it."
He said he wants the club to "strive toward the development of young players." He also said he would leave contract negotiations to Vice President George Bradley and General Manager Gene Michael, adding "we're going to field the best team we can in a fiscally responsible way.
"I believe in letting baseball people make decisions when it comes to baseball. Naturally, we will discuss things and we'll review them, but when you hire experts to have them give you advice and you don't follow the experts, then they ought not to be there. . . . My own personal philosophy is you have to give people a chance. Continuity is important. If at the time a decision is made it's a reasonable decision, then you should stick with it. I have complete confidence in Mr. Bradley and Mr. Michael."
Brown, 65, originally was elected for a five-year term that began in January 1984. He later was given a two-year extension that would have expired at the end of this year.
"I'm delighted," he said. But he added he would retire at the conclusion of the new extension. A league statement indicated the league's board of directors would begin a search for Brown's successor "shortly."
White, who threatened to resign over the recent controversy involving umpire Joe West, received a strong endorsement from Vincent.
"I think Bill's a first-class president of the league and I hope he continues to perform as well as he has," Vincent said. "I think business is going forward as usual now, and I'm happy for that."