Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf led a team of negotiators from Major League Baseball in a three-hour meeting yesterday with the leaders of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority as the sides try to nail down a deal to bring the Montreal Expos to Loudoun County.
Yesterday's meeting came on the heels of a day-long meeting Tuesday between MLB and officials from the District, which is also trying to lure the Expos. Northern Virginia and the District are getting the most attention from MLB, which is also considering Norfolk and Las Vegas as second-tier options for the ailing Expos.
Baseball's 29 owners bought the Expos in February 2002 and are looking for a new location for the team, which has lost millions annually. Commissioner Bud Selig has said they will not play in Montreal next season.
Baseball officials are said to be concerned that the bond financing package for the Loudoun County bid does not have support among some state lawmakers, and MLB's goal for yesterday's meeting was to get a clearer understanding of whether the bond financing is feasible. There was no clear-cut picture as of last night.
"We talked about the process of financing, locating, accessing a stadium," said Stadium Authority chairman Keith Frederick. The Virginia stadium group has partnered with major national developers to build a sprawling town center -- known as Diamond Lake -- near Dulles International Airport, with the stadium as the centerpiece.
Two of Diamond Lake's developers were present at the meeting, as were stadium authority executive director Gabe Paul and stadium authority finance chairman Jerry McAndrews. MLB executive vice president John McHale and senior counsel Thomas J. Ostertag accompanied Reinsdorf, as did an attorney with the Washington office of Foley & Lardner, the Milwaukee-based firm that is assisting in the Expos relocation.
The mood of the General Assembly regarding bonds appears to be mixed, several lawmakers said yesterday.
While several legislators -- including Stafford Republicans House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate Finance Chair John H. Chichester -- have long said they oppose using bonds to finance a baseball stadium, others have said they believe there is a healthy appetite among both Democrats and Republicans to bring a stadium to the state through public financing.
Staff writers Chris L. Jenkins and Michael Laris contributed to this report.