The list of bidders to relocate the Montreal Expos to the Washington area has grown to four with the addition of the first out-of-area investment group, headed by Long Island-based real estate developer Mark Broxmeyer.
Broxmeyer, founder of privately held Fairfield Properties, and several associates met with two top Major League Baseball officials Friday in New York and sought information on MLB's process for relocating the Expos for the 2004 season, according to Robert DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer.
"We regularly meet in this office with people inquiring about the possibility and the process of owning an MLB franchise," DuPuy said. "I told him we will reach a deal with a municipality or location [for financing a new ballpark and setting the terms of the tenant's lease] and then solicit potential owners for the team with this deal in hand."
Although MLB would like to relocate the Expos for the 2004 season, Commissioner Bud Selig said last month he could not guarantee it. MLB, which would like to make a decision before the All-Star Game in July, prefers local investors. DuPuy said the addition of the Broxmeyer group is not intended as leverage in bidding for the team. Representatives of the D.C., Northern Virginia and Portland, Ore., government delegations met with baseball officials last week in New York.
Broxmeyer, who built a family fortune in developing 5,000 apartment units in several states and whose company employs 1,800 people, said he only would be interested in buying the Expos if baseball decides to relocate them in the District or Northern Virginia, Newsday reported yesterday.
"Baseball has had some issues recently, and I think the opportunity to buy is now," Broxmeyer told Newsday. "I'm looking at this as a business decision. I'm serious about this. I'm not looking for press. I think my group would be a tremendous asset to baseball."
Broxmeyer has strong ties to the Republican Party. Former president George H.W. Bush appointed him to the board of directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. Gov. George Pataki appointed him to the board of directors of the United Nations Development Corporation. Broxmeyer told Newsday that his investor group would be a "dream team," but he declined to name investors other than his brother and son.
Annual sales for Fairfield Properties and its subsidiaries were unavailable, since the company is privately held.
Fred Malek, managing partner of Washington Baseball Club LLC, the District government's partner in a bid to return MLB to the city for the first time since 1971, said he saw Broxmeyer's interest as beneficial.
"Another formidable businessperson wanting to do this just underlines what a great market we have and what a great idea this is," Malek said.
In addition to Malek, a financier, other area bidding groups are led by Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television who recently was awarded an NBA expansion franchise for Charlotte, and telecommunications executive William Collins.
MLB also received a $150 million bid for the Expos from Riverside, Calif., attorney Gary Foltz, who leads Inland Empire Baseball LLC and has been trying to secure a major league franchise for Riverside and San Bernardino counties since 1995. Foltz has no interest in relocating the Expos to the Washington area.