Indianapolis media mogul Jeffrey Smulyan has added several influential Washington figures to a group he heads that is trying to purchase the Washington Nationals, including former Redskins stars Art Monk and Charles Mann and former Dallas Cowboys and Redskins star running back Calvin Hill.
Smulyan has been aggressively wooing Washington business executives over the last few weeks in an attempt to add a local flavor to the investment group he has assembled. He would not say how much equity his partners were contributing, but Smulyan called the local contribution "a very, very significant amount of equity."
"They are all people with ties not only to this city but also to this region," said Smulyan. "They will all help in making us the best stewards possible of this franchise."
In addition to Monk, Mann and Hill, Smulyan has added local business executives Ernie Jarvis and William Jarvis, banker Bob Pincus and attorney Max Berry. Others include Eric Holder, former U.S. attorney for the District; Alfred C. Liggins III, chairman of TV One who has been the chief executive and the president of Radio One Inc.; lawyer Dick Wiley, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; lobbyist David Carmen; and business executives Jeffrey Thompson and Dickie Carter.
"I'm putting in a substantial sum for me, a seven-figure sum," said Hill, who said he joined the group because of Smulyan's "commitment to the idea of being inclusive. He understands this team is for the people of Anacostia, for people in the upper Northwest, for people in the suburbs and for all fans in the Washington region."
Smulyan has also hired investment banker Salvatore Galatioto of Galatioto Sports Partners, which specializes in sports property acquisitions, to advise Smulyan on his bid to buy the Nationals.
Ernie Jarvis, a developer who is the son of former D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis, said he and his cousin, William, joined the Smulyan bid because "Jeff really has local Washington sensibilities. . . . He understands the city and demonstrated it when he put together a team with deep local roots."
Smulyan has visited with council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), who has pushed Major League Baseball to sell the Nationals to a group with local members in high positions, including writing a letter to Commissioner Bud Selig last week.
Cropp, who has not endorsed any group, said recently that she wonders whether Smulyan's new partners will have a say in key decisions for the franchise if he wins the club -- or whether they are just political window dressing.
"The key is to make sure we do not just have people's names on a list, but that they are actually controlling partners," Cropp said
There are eight groups bidding on the team, which is going to cost at least $450 million. Baseball has said that no groups have been eliminated, and it is unlikely that an owner will be selected before the end of the week.
Price may not be the only factor in the sale. The financial soundness of each bid and MLB's comfort level with a prospective owner also carry a lot of weight. MLB wants a financially sound ownership group to manage the team. It also wants ownership that is welcome on Capitol Hill and in the halls of the D.C. government.
Staff writer David Nakamura contributed to this report.