Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos and Major League Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy met for several hours in Angelos's Baltimore office yesterday but apparently made no progress on a compensation package that would pave the way for moving the Montreal Expos to Washington, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
"I have no comment," Angelos said after the meeting, which was also attended by associates of both the Orioles' owner and other baseball officials. DuPuy also declined to comment via e-mail.
While the details of DuPuy's financial proposal are not known, the impasse with Angelos is not likely to deter baseball from moving the Expos to Washington, according to top baseball officials and owners. Baseball has unofficially decided that the Expos should move to Washington, and the league is running out of time to announce its decision.
The D.C. City Council has said it needs to submit legislation for a $400 million publicly funded stadium by the end of next week in order to get it passed by the end of the year. DuPuy said at a news conference in Milwaukee on Thursday that baseball is still hoping to announce the Expos' move by Oct. 1 or at least by the end of baseball's regular season on Oct. 3.
Angelos has not retreated from his opposition to a team in Washington, which he believes would drain fans, injure the Orioles financially and diminish the team's ability to compete. He also has argued to fellow owners and top baseball officials that putting the Expos in Washington will have a negative effect on the city of Baltimore, which benefits from the tourism and commerce that the Orioles bring to the city.
Angelos, 75, voiced those concerns at a meeting of baseball's executive council in Milwaukee Thursday. At that meeting, which was held in Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig's office, the league decided Washington was the overwhelming favorite for the Expos, according to those present.
Despite Angelos's protestations, some key owners and advisers to Selig say they believe Angelos will ultimately make some sort of deal. Before becoming baseball president, DuPuy was a corporate litigator and known for taking on hopeless cases and negotiating a satisfactory outcome.
Angelos's opposition to a team in Washington is just one of the hurdles the league must deal with before it moves the Expos. The D.C. City Council must approve a financing package for the stadium package. There is also an unresolved lawsuit by former minority owners of the Expos.
If baseball moves forward with Washington and Angelos sues the league, legal experts said Angelos could face a tough road. To keep the Expos from coming to Washington, Angelos would have to convince a court that the contractual relationship between baseball and its owners is broader than has been commonly understood, legal experts said.
But he might try. A trial lawyer who made a fortune handling asbestos cases, Angelos has never shied from using the courts to advance his business interests. In recent days, those close to him have said he is mulling his legal options.
DuPuy's visit to Angelos's office on Friday isn't the first approach baseball has made toward the Orioles owner. DuPuy and investment banker Steve Greenberg, who specializes in sports media assets, met with Angelos a couple of months ago to discuss setting up a regional sports network between the Orioles and a Washington team. DuPuy and Greenberg's pitch to Angelos was that a second team in the region could actually boost the Orioles' revenues if they combined in a regional sports network.
Angelos told DuPuy he wasn't interested, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
There have been other financial feelers placed with Angelos more recently, but he has failed to embrace them, according to sources.
Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, now a television sports consultant, was present at Thursday's meeting in Milwaukee. Some observers said they believe Pilson's presence was further evidence that television revenues are a key component of baseball's compensation package to Angelos.