Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said today the Montreal Expos are still working to acquire new ownership and financing for a stadium. While Selig said time is running out on the Expos, he's not yet ready to allow the franchise to be sold to outside interests that could relocate the franchise.
Investment groups in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia appear poised to purchase the franchise and move it to Washington for the 2000 season. An investment group in Charlotte also would like to purchase the Expos.
"The Montreal situation is one I'm monitoring now almost on a daily basis," Selig said. "They appear to be somewhat optimistic that they're making progress, but I would say it's really in the same posture that it was two or three months ago. There is nothing new to report on either the ownership or the stadium."
The Expos are on pace to draw fewer than a million fans for the second straight season, and major league owners are tired of subsidizing the franchise. General partner Claude Brochu wanted to sell the franchise last fall, but was unable to muster the support of his other investors.
Those investors have spent the past six months working to acquire a new owner and financing for a new downtown stadium. Their hope now is that New York arts dealer Jeffrey Loria will invest at least $50 million to keep the franchise alive.
However, no stadium financing deal is in place, and baseball sources have indicated the Expos have until around the end of the month to get something done.
"We're trying hard in Montreal," Selig said. "We're giving all the parties ample time to do the things that they need to do to make that an economically viable franchise. And somebody was critical the other day and said how much more time is the commissioner going to give? Well, you want to be fair. You want to bend over backwards to be fair. One can make their own assessments about Montreal, but Montreal is a major league city and has been since 1969. And we want to give them at least a fair amount of time to work their problems out."
Coming Full Circle
On the day before his first all-star appearance, Blue Jays outfielder Shawn Green remembered the time he went to Anaheim Stadium and stood in line to get Cal Ripken's autograph. "I was about 13," he said, "and I couldn't believe how patient he was. I thought about it often, and I've tried to act the same way he did when it comes to signing." . . .
National League Manager Bruce Bochy asked Reds Manager Jack McKeon and Cubs Manager Jim Riggleman to be all-star coaches because of the impact both had on his career. "When I was released by the Mets in 1982, I called every club," Bochy said. "I talked to Jack McKeon, who was with the Padres at the time. He brought me over, and I ended up getting five years playing in the major leagues because of him. After managing at Double A Wichita, Jim Riggleman was named manager of San Diego. He brought me up as third base coach. This is my way of thanking them for what they've done for me." . . .
Shortstop Barry Larkin said he may leave the Reds after the 2000 season if the team doesn't replace the artificial turf that covers the playing surface at Cinergy Field. The Reds tentatively are scheduled to move into a new ballpark with a grass field in 2003. "I'm going to the point in my career where I've got to play on grass," he said. "I'm feeling the effects of playing on turf for years and years. Grass puts spring back in the legs. It's up to the people in Cincinnati, but the field is a factor. I've talked to John Allen [Reds managing partner] and Jim [Bowden, general manager]. The ball is in their court. I'm a free agent after next season, and I've told them how I feel. They said they would look into it. If we get into serious negotiations, it's something I'll look at. I don't know if it's feasible. If it's not possible, it's not possible. It's not just me. There are plenty of players in our clubhouse aching. Our whole infield is in that training room at times."