Major League Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy is expected to continue negotiations today with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos on a financial package for the Orioles that could clear a path for baseball to move the Montreal Expos to RFK Stadium in time for Opening Day next April.
Baseball wants to make the Expos announcement by the end of the week in order to give the D.C. Council enough time to approve the legislation for a publicly financed, $440 million package to renovate RFK and build a new stadium on the Anacostia waterfront. The council must act on the legislation soon in order to have the money for the RFK renovation, which city officials said will take at least three months.
DuPuy and Angelos, who met for several hours on Friday, are expected to discuss a regional sports network that would televise both the Orioles and the Washington team's games and be owned by both franchises. Under the proposed discussions, the Orioles would receive the greater share of revenue, according to baseball sources familiar with the proposed package.
Baseball also is believed to be proposing that it will guarantee the amount of annual revenue that the Orioles earn, as well as the team's value, according to two sources familiar with the talks. Under the proposal, Major League Baseball would make up any shortfall if the Orioles' annual revenue fall below an agreed upon threshold, according to sources.
Angelos has so far resisted financial overtures from baseball, and he has told people close to him that he will take legal action against the league if there isn't a deal before the Expos move to Washington.
Angelos repeatedly has said that a team in Washington will drain away fans, hamstring the Orioles financially and inhibit the team's ability to compete. Baltimore plays in the American League East Division against two of the richest teams in the sport: the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Angelos told fellow owners at a meeting in Milwaukee last week, where it was all but decided to relocate the Expos to the District, that the move was bad for baseball and bad for Baltimore, which depends on the Orioles for tourism and commerce.
Reached at his office yesterday, Angelos said, "I have no comment." DuPuy could not be reached to comment.
Baseball officials have said the deadline to announce a decision on the Expos is the end of the regular season, which is Sunday. If a decision isn't made by then, it is likely baseball would wait until late October to announce the Expos' fate because it doesn't like to make announcements during the playoffs and World Series. But delaying a decision would jeopardize the chances that stadium legislation would pass the D.C. Council before the end of the year.
D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission Chairman Mark Tuohey, who was instrumental in reaching a stadium deal with baseball, said yesterday in a meeting with Washington Post editors and reporters that he expected baseball to make a decision this week.
Commissioner Bud Selig would need the approval of three-fourths of the league's 29 owners; the Expos presently are owned by MLB. Selig could hold a vote by conference call, which is usually preceded by 24 hours' notice.
Baseball must also deal with a lawsuit by the Expos' former minority partners, in addition to getting an agreement with Angelos and getting the stadium financing package passed in the D.C. Council.