Capital Region Baseball, a group of investors which has been seeking a major league team for Northern Virginia, will withdraw its application for one of the two expansion franchises the National League will add in 1993, the group's president, Mark Tracz, said last night.
Tracz said a meeting today of the NL Expansion Committee was the deadline by which his group needed to have its financing and stadium site settled. It could not fully resolve either issue, Tracz said.
Now, Metropolitan Washington Baseball, a group led by Washington developer John "Chip" Akridge, is the area's only representative in the expansion race. Tracz said he had been told Akridge's group has all of its financing in place. Akridge's group also has a letter of understanding for a long-term lease on RFK Stadium.
Tracz's group had been hoping to initially locate a team at RFK Stadium, then move to a new facility in Northern Virginia. However, with the expansion entry fee set at $95 million, Tracz said his group was estimating it would need $250 million to pay for the team, the team's start-up costs and the construction of a stadium. He said his group could raise only $150 million.
Its inability to reach the $250 million figure centered mainly on its inability to complete a deal with a family trust being represented by Washington investment banker Jim Valentine, Tracz said. The family trust was willing to finance the team, but was reluctant to get involved with the construction and ownership of a stadium.
"We could not get a firm deal with Valentine's people that we were comfortable with," Tracz said. "We went to some alternative sources, but unless we were 100 percent sure we could finance it, we could not in good conscience go forward."
Tracz said the NL Expansion Committee -- comprised of Douglas Danforth of the Pirates (its chairman), NL President Bill White, John McMullen of the Astros and Fred Wilpon of the Mets -- was seeking specific information about investors, the amount of money each was committing, who was going to operate the team and how it was going to operate on a day-to-day basis.
"We couldn't give them a clear answer," Tracz said, "so we decided to stop fighting it. It was a tough decision and there was a lot of maneuvering, but we couldn't get as far as we needed to get.
"We feel the area deserves a team and we want to give it every shot to get it. We are throwing our support behind Chip Akridge's group. We hope they can pull it off. We wanted to be the owners, but our second choice is having a team and going to the games."