Jeff Zients, 37, recently became president and chief executive of Washington Baseball Club, a group of area investors who hope to be selected by Major League Baseball to buy the Expos from MLB if Washington is chosen as the relocation site. The group has D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams's blessing and has been working for more than five years to return a major league team to Washington. Zients, a Washington native who attended St. Albans and Duke University and built two research and consulting firms, was listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the 40 richest Americans under 40, with a net worth of $149 million.
GS: Why did you get involved so late in the process?
Zients: Because I think there will be huge support for baseball. It feels like such a different city from the one I grew up in. There's no doubt we'll be successful and fill a void of more than 30 years. Baseball is important in the city to kids who have never known their own team.
GS: From a world of business, why sports now?
Zients: I grew up following the Redskins, Bullets and Capitals. I was 4 when the Senators left town, so my association with baseball as a kid comes from a baseball card collection, watching the game on television and playing board games. I loved sports, wrestled at St. Albans and was the sports editor of the school newspaper. I also, because of some recent business decisions, had the time to devote to this project.
GS: If MLB awards the Expos to Washington and your group is successful in buying the team, how would you operate the club?
Zients: You have to create a great product. That means hiring the right leadership and putting the right people in the key positions. The economics will follow if you make the correct hiring decisions. I'd love for our team to be known as the one that does the most for the community. Sports is a great escape for adults and provides kids with the interest to set and carry ambitions and goals through life. The fact we haven't had a baseball team here all these years has been a missing element in the town. The group I've joined has been wonderful in its pursuit of this team, as has the city officials who have worked so hard in trying to make this happen. I'm lucky to be part of it.