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Guest Juanky

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Washington is calling baseball's bluff over the relocation of the Montreal Expos.

 

 

 

 

City officials have prepared a new plan they say offers Major League Baseball exactly what it has requested -- 100 percent public financing for a new ballpark if the Expos are moved to the nation's capital.

 

 

"It is by far the best proposal that the city could have come up with," Fred Malek, head of a potential ownership group who has worked closely with the city, said Friday. "It's aggressive. It meets the needs and requests of Major League Baseball. It's got the support of the mayor as well as key members of the city council."

 

 

Baseball has been trying to resolve the future of the Expos since the struggling franchise was purchased by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season. League officials failed to meet deadlines in 2002 and 2003 to find a new home for the team and have set this year's All-Star break as their latest target.

 

 

Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; Portland, Ore.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Northern Virginia have also expressed interest in the Expos, but league officials have insisted that any relocation plan include full public funding for a stadium without relying on contributions from an ownership group.

 

 

Washington's new proposal, first reported by The Washington Times, envisions a $340 million stadium built on a parking lot near RFK Stadium, where the Senators played before relocating to Texas after the 1971 season. RFK would also serve as the relocated Expos' temporary home for two or three seasons while the new stadium is built. The money would be raised through a new tax on large Washington businesses and taxes on tickets, concessions, merchandise, parking and other stadium-related sales.

 

 

Malek said he and city officials still feel the best location for a stadium is downtown as part of an economic revitalization along New York Avenue, but the cost of the land would require a contribution from Malek's group. Malek said both sites will be presented to the league.

 

 

Local officials have often felt that baseball has avoided serious consideration of Washington or Northern Virginia out of deference to Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who claims the D.C. area is part of his market. This latest plan could be seen as a test of Angelos' influence.

 

 

"I take the league at their word," Malek said. "They said they want a fully financed stadium, that Baltimore is a consideration, not a roadblock. I believe this area is two separate markets, and it's big enough to support two teams well."

 

 

Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin was not available for comment.

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The only way this could be bad for the Marlins (if a stadium deal isn't done) is if now Portland or Las Vegas steps up their efforts.

 

Nice job by DC. They know they can get support from Congress to offset any budget shortfalls. And they just put MLB on the hot seat. If they pick Norfolk, Las Vegas or Portland DC now it will be seen as nothing but a shady backhanded deal.

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I will say this: If Petey's (Angelos) so worried about phantom (for now) competition in the District that's because he's done things that drove people away from the O's. What with the bad contracts and distant management style he uses. That franchise used to draw solidly during the 90s when Cal was still in his prime. The decline is mostly the owner's fault.

 

That's one of the biggest reasons why Senators III may happen and why he should really welcome it, as it would create renewed interest in both clubs.

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I don't see why having an MLB team in DC would prove harmful to the Orioles franchise. We have two baseball teams in Florida, don't we? so does Chicago, New York, etc. If there's a market for baseball, both teams will be able to operate successfully.

Exactly! In football there's a DC team(Redskins) and a Baltimore team(Ravens) and no one is crying there.

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Washington seems like the most convenient place to put the expos, they wont have to change anything division-wise, its geographly convenient, and washington is obviously the biggest market left out there considering they have 3 other pro sports teams. By the way I dont think Las Vegas is a very serious option, Im sure goin to a baseball game would be far from what people there want to do. I thnk Portland would be too much of a hastle, there would be too m uch to change.

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By the way I dont think Las Vegas is a very serious option, Im sure goin to a baseball game would be far from what people there want to do. I thnk Portland would be too much of a hastle, there would be too m uch to change.

I agree. Vegas is too iffy for my liking and Portland is just one more small market team. No thank you.

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I don't see why having an MLB team in DC would prove harmful to the Orioles franchise. We have two baseball teams in Florida, don't we? so does Chicago, New York, etc. If there's a market for baseball, both teams will be able to operate successfully.

Florida is larger than Maryland/DC though. What is it? Two hours between Tampa and Miami, you can get from DC to Baltimore it's 45 minutes on weekends and a little over a hour on weeknights.

Still though back when the Orioles were run properly (focus on community, keeping stars, signing homegrown talent, avoiding the Albert Belles and Kevin Browns) Baltimore regularly sold out. Thursday's game had thirty thousand in the seats. Almost all of them from Baltimore given it's a weeknight in the spring.

The new Senators would be at the very least financially sound with its skyboxes and reserved seats in high demand.

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