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Selig to recommend Lerner group as Nationals' owner


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Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that he has selected a group led by real estate developer Theodore N. Lerner as the new owner of the Washington Nationals and will forward his selection to Major League Baseball's owners for their vote.


Major League Baseball is expected to vote on Commissioner Selig's recommendation at its next owners' meeting, which will take place in New York on May 17th and 18th. The purchase price for the franchise was set at $450 million.


"We had eight very capable and qualified groups bidding for the Nationals," said Commissioner Selig, "and choosing one was extremely difficult. I thank those that were not chosen for their interest and for the great amount of time, energy and patience they devoted to the process.


"I am very excited about the Lerner family and what they will bring to the Washington Nationals, the community and Major League Baseball. From the very beginning of the process they have been committed to the goals of stable yet innovative ownership, diversity within the ownership group, and solid baseball management. Throughout the long application period, they have not varied from those goals and have scrupulously followed our procedures.


"In the end, I determined that family ownership and major investment by a central person has served baseball well in the past and will continue to serve the game well in the future. Accountability is critical in a situation where teams must compete on the field but be partners off the field and in the community. I am confident the Lerners will be accountable to their fans and to baseball.


"Family ownership has long been a model for baseball. The O'Malleys with the Dodgers, the Fetzers with the Tigers and the Galbraiths with the Pirates are several historical examples that had great success in the game. And, among the successful family-operated teams today are the Wilpons with the Mets, the Pohlads in Minnesota, and the Moores family in San Diego. I believe the Lerner family will be another excellent example and I look forward to working with them."


As part of the process, Major League Baseball has emphasized the need for strong local and diverse ownership, a requirement that was met by the Lerner Group. Ted, his son Mark, were born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, while his sons-in-law, Edward L. Cohen and Robert K. Tanenbaum, are long-time residents. Nearly all of the Lerner Family business as well as their personal and philanthropic interests are local. For more than 50 years, they have developed, operated and managed real estate projects that Washingtonians use - from shopping centers to offices to homes.


This is not Ted Lerner's first foray into baseball. In the mid-1970s, several years after the Senators departed Washington, D.C. for Texas, he contacted then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn about returning a team to the D.C. area. He also had tried to purchase the Baltimore Orioles.


Former Atlanta Braves President Stan Kasten is part of the Nationals' ownership as are a diverse group of local business leaders that includes:


• Paxton K. Baker, Vice President and General Manager of BET Digital Networks;


• Sports broadcaster James T. Brown;


• Faye F. Fields, founder of Integrated Resource Technologies, Inc.;


• Alphonso Maldon, Jr., Senior Vice President and Senior Relationship Management Officer for Government Banking Services in the Corporate Banking Department at the PNC Financial Services Group;


• B. Doyle Mitchell, Jr., President and CEO of Industrial Bank, NA;


• George Munoz, Principal of Munoz Investment Banking Group, LLC;


• Raul R. Romano, President and CEO of Alliance Consulting Group, LLC;


• Rodney E. Slater, Partner, Patton Boggs LLP, and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; and


• Jarvis C. Stewart, Chairman and Managing Partner of Stewart Partners LLC.


The Lerners cannot take full control of the Nationals until their acquisition is approved by the Major League clubs and the sales process closes. Until that time, the Lerner group may consult with current club President Tony Tavares and his front office to ensure a smooth transition of ownership. The Lerners, however, are expected to be immediately involved in the detailed stadium planning process to move that forward as rapidly as possible.


"I also want to thank Tony Tavares, Jim Bowden, Frank Robinson and the entire Nationals' staff for their continuing hard work on our behalf," said Commissioner Selig. "Everyone in the industry is grateful for their efforts."

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