-- A hearing on the lawsuit aimed at blocking the Montreal Expos' move to Washington will be held in Miami on Dec. 6, the day before the D.C. Council is scheduled to vote on a renovation proposal to make RFK Stadium ready for baseball next season.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages on Friday set the hearing date on the motion for a preliminary injunction against the move sought by 14 former limited partners in the Expos.

The judge left open the possibility she would rule from the bench at the end of the hearing.

The partners sued in Miami federal court in July 2002 claiming Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig fraudulently conspired with former Expos principal owner Jeffrey Loria to eliminate Montreal and allow him to buy the Florida Marlins. The injunction would halt the Expos' move pending trial on the merits of their claims.

However, a three-member arbitration panel's ruling expected by Nov. 15 may make the hearing moot.

Jeffrey Kessler, attorney for the minority partners, told the judge at Friday's status conference that if the arbitrators were to rule conclusively against the partners it is "very unlikely we'll proceed with the motion for preliminary injunction."

Loria and Marlins President David Samson, also a defendant in the suit, and the minority partners were told in 2002 to resolve their dispute through arbitration. MLB and Selig were not parties in the arbitration.

The arbitrators ended the hearing last Aug. 18 and said they planned to release their findings and rulings by Nov. 15.