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District Of Columbia Council Kills Baseball


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WASHINGTON -- The long-term future of the Washington Nationals remaining in the nation's capital seemed to be put on hold Wednesday following Tuesday night's surprise legislation by the District of Columbia Council.

The Council amended legislation to require private financing for at least half of the costs of building a new stadium. That provision was not contained in an agreement with the club in September and could very well jeopardize the league's deal with the District.

 

"The legislation approved by the District of Columbia City Council last night does not reflect the agreement we signed and relied upon after being invited by District leaders to consider Washington as a home for Major League Baseball," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, in a statement issued Wednesday evening. "The legislation is inconsistent with our carefully negotiated agreement and is wholly unacceptable to Major League Baseball.

 

"Because our stadium agreement provides for a December 31, 2004 deadline, we will not entertain offers for permanent relocation of the club until that deadline passes. In the meantime, the club's baseball operations will proceed, but its business and promotional activities will cease until further notice. We thank the fans of Washington, D.C. for their support and enthusiasm, but given the present uncertainty, any ticket purchaser who entrusted us with a deposit may request a refund through the club's ticket office."

 

The team postponed a news conference scheduled for Wednesday to unveil its new uniforms.

 

Without private financing in place by June, no stadium would be built under the amendment that was pushed through the council by chair Linda Cropp.

 

Washington mayor Anthony A. Williams, who brokered the deal bringing the Montreal Expos to Washington, was disheartened by Tuesday night's turn of events.

 

"As CEO of this city, I'm deeply troubled about what happened," Williams said. "I'm saddened that we could go so far in five years and step back all that way in five minutes. Yes, baseball is in jeopardy. We had a deal and it was broken. The dream of 33 years is now, once again, close to dying."

 

Even so, Williams remained hopeful a deal could be reached. The District's agreement with Major League Baseball calls for a deal to be in place by Dec. 31, giving the city time to change course.

 

Chris Bender, spokesman for Williams, said that the bill can be brought up again for discussion when the D.C. Council meets again Tuesday if Cropp "agrees to re-agendize it and someone supports that motion from the winning coalition."

 

Both Williams and Cropp said that they'll use the next two weeks to try and keep Washington's baseball dreams alive.

 

"We've got 15 days to work through the deal -- and that's what we'll do," Williams said. "Today, we'll be in touch with baseball, we'll be in touch with the Chairman, we'll be in touch with Councilmember [Jack] Evans -- and we'll see what can be done."

 

The Nationals were scheduled to play the 2005 season at Washington's RFK Stadium. If the law stands, one option for baseball could be to have its search committee resume negotiations with cities that desire the team. Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Norfolk, Va.; Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico also tried to land the franchise.

 

The group that tried to lure the franchise to Norfolk, Va., was prepared to revive its bid.

 

"I don't think we've ever stopped," said Will Somerindyke Jr., who is spearheading Norfolk's bid. "We always wanted to keep this area an option. If the opportunity arises for the [Nationals] again, we are going to be standing there along with everyone else."

 

Another option could be Las Vegas. Mayor Oscar Goodman campaigned at last week's Winter Meetings in Anaheim, arriving accompanied by showgirls wearing feathered headdresses.

 

Cropp repeatedly said on Tuesday both during and after the session that she wasn't trying to kill baseball in Washington but only wanted a fair deal.

 

Cropp had been pushing the importance of private financing for several weeks, even delaying one vote on the bill so it could research more about the subject. But nothing had materialized, and Cropp said she still wanted baseball and was not trying to break the deal that Williams negotiated with MLB officials.

 

From the start, baseball owners have insisted on a publicly financed stadium for the team be a component of any move.

 

When the council gave its initial approval to the law on Nov. 30, it called for the city to issue $531 million in bonds to finance the plan. Baseball owners approved the team's move Dec. 2 on the condition that financing be put in place consistent with the deal, and that arrangements to prepare RFK Stadium for use in 2005 satisfied Commissioner Bud Selig.

 

The Nationals open their season April 4 at Philadelphia and play their home opener April 14 against Arizona

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Guest Greaseman

The Washington Nationals are currently not accepting deposits

for 2005 full season ticket packages.

 

If you have previously made a deposit for full season tickets and you now would like to request a refund, please send an e-mail to tickethelp@nationals.mlb.com with your name, zip code, and the e-mail address that you used when you made your deposit.

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Guest Walter Johnsen

Statement on D.C. Council vote

 

Major League Baseball President and Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy issued the following statement today regarding the legislation passed by the D.C. Council last night:

 

"The legislation approved by the District of Columbia City Council last night does not reflect the agreement we signed and relied upon after being invited by District leaders to consider Washington as a home for Major League Baseball. The legislation is inconsistent with our carefully negotiated agreement and is wholly unacceptable to Major League Baseball.

 

"Because our stadium agreement provides for a December 31, 2004 deadline, we will not entertain offers for permanent relocation of the club until that deadline passes. In the meantime, the club's baseball operations will proceed, but its business and promotional activities will cease until further notice. We thank the fans of Washington, D.C. for their support and enthusiasm, but given the present uncertainty, any ticket purchaser who entrusted us with a deposit may request a refund through the club's ticket office."

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Washington dosen't deserve this team at this point! DC and MLB should of had this stadium issue done before awarding DC the Expo franchise!

 

Everyone on the DC Council should be FIRED

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Petition to fire the DC Council

 

Linda W. Cropp

Council Chair

 

Jack Evans

Chair Pro Tempore/Ward Two

 

Harold Brazil

At-Large

 

David Catania

At-Large

 

Carol Schwartz

At-Large

 

Phil Mendelson

At-Large

 

Jim Graham

Ward One

 

Kathleen Patterson

Ward Three

 

Adrian Fenty

Ward Four

 

Vincent Orange

Ward Five

 

Sharon Ambrose

Ward Six

 

Kevin Chavous

Ward Seven

 

Sandy Allen

Ward Eight

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Phil Mendelson and Linda Cropp are the ones that screwed all this up. The will get the same treatment former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly had when she screwed up the Redskins stadium deal.

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I think Hal Bodley wrote it best.

 

 

Picture this: Cropp & Co. refuse to reverse course by the Dec. 31 deadline to honor the stadium agreement, and Commissioner Bud Selig tells the D.C. Council to take a flying leap into the Anacostia River — near where the new stadium was to be built. Then, baseball picks Northern Virginia, runner-up to Washington among cities campaigning last summer for the Expos.

 

But — and this is the right hook to Cropp & Co.'s jaw — the team plays next season in Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to sellout crowds, the same devoted fans who were poised to support the Nationals. And then moves across the Potomac River to Northern Virginia.

 

All the excitement generated when it was announced baseball would be returning to Washington after 33 years will be on display — right in front of Cropp, who will be knee-deep in embarrassment.

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The Washington Post Reported today

 

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said last night that they had reached agreement on a stadium financing package that would satisfy Major League Baseball by guaranteeing construction of a permanent home for the Washington Nationals along the Anacostia waterfront.

 

DuPuy says he hopes the city passes legislation that's consistent with the Expos' baseball agreement with the city.

 

The deal reportedly allows for private financing and splits the liability for cost overruns if the stadium isn't completed on time.

 

Cropp said the proposed changes could reduce the District's potential costs for the stadium by up to $193.5 million when compared with the deal Williams struck with baseball officials in September. She said she expects a council majority to approve the new agreement.

 

The D-C Council will vote on the revised plan at Tuesday's meeting.

 

Major League Baseball has a December 31 deadline to have a stadium financing plan in place. Once the package is approved and the team moves, the Expos will officially be renamed the Nationals.

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Here is what Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's President, stated:

 

"We remain hopeful that the Council will pass legislation consistent with the stadium agreement so we can move forward with the Nationals in D.C.," said DuPuy, who negotiated with the District contingent via telephone from New York.

 

DuPuy said on Sunday that MLB wouldn't be adverse to a plan that included private financing, but baseball "had no intention" of extending the end-of-the-year deadline stipulated in the original agreement.

 

That deal, signed by MLB and Williams on Sept. 29, called for the stadium to be paid for by a special assessment on only the biggest businesses in the District, plus fees charged to fans, who actually attend games at the facility. No general funds dollars were earmarked for the project, although the bonds written to pay for construction costs would be backed by the full faith and credit of the city.

 

That deal also called for the District to pay $19 million to the new owners of the Nationals to help defray costs if the ballpark was not completed in time for the 2008 season. The team is slated to play at 43-year-old RFK Stadium for at least the next three seasons.

 

That cost would no longer be solely a city liability under Monday's abridged deal.

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Guest Nagasaki

After a brief scare, it looks like Major League Baseball will be returning to Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season.

 

 

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams has been a prominent backer of returning baseball to the capital. (CP File Photo)

 

The proposed move of the Montreal Expos to Washington, where they will be renamed the Nationals, passed its biggest hurdle Tuesday when the District of Columbia Council reversed a previous vote and revised the financing for a new ball park.

 

"We can now focus our attention on bringing baseball back to Washington this coming season," said baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

 

"To that end, the club may now resume its business and promotional activities."

 

Last Wednesday, the Nationals' move was jeopardized when Council inserted a provision that mandated private funding to cover at least half the cost of the project, estimated at $435 million US or more, and MLB officially put the move on hold.

 

But Council voted 10-3 to repeal the provision, then voted 7-6 to approve the revised legislation, which urges private financing but does not require it.

 

The Expos' relocation to Washington will become final after Mayor Anthony A. Williams signs the legislation and Selig approves the use of RFK Stadium as a temporary facility for the Nationals.

 

As part of the deal, the league waived its right to compensatory damages if the new ball park is finished late.

 

The Washington Nationals would not have to pay rent for RKF Stadium in 2008.

 

It's an agreement that city councilors say will save more than $193 million.

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