- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CHICAGO — The new owner of the Washington Nationals likely will be able to name the management group for the franchise in time for the 2006 season, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said last night.

Typically, it can take 45 to 60 days for final approval before an owner can take over operations. But during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at U.S. Cellular Field, Selig said the process should be much shorter for the Nationals.

“A lot of the vetting process that we normally go through has already been done,” Selig said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on the eight groups and gotten a lot of information. I think it is fair to say that once someone is selected, they will go through the ownership committee on an expedited basis.

“Once we have chosen them, we need to get them in place,” Selig said.

As far as whether team president Tony Tavares and general manager Jim Bowden will have to have their contracts extended into the offseason for the team to do business, Selig said, “You wouldn’t do that. You have to let the new owners do that. It would be unfair to them.”

The eight bidders seeking to purchase the Nationals — the former Expos franchise purchased by baseball in 2002 for $120 million — are communications executive and former Seattle Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan; businessman William Collins and Albert Lord, chairman of Sallie Mae; the Washington Baseball Club, led by former Texas Rangers partner Fred Malek and Jeffrey Zients; former Washington Capitals part-owner Jonathan Ledecky; Maryland real estate businessmen Mark and Theodore Lerner; Washington developer Franklin Haney; former Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten; and Yusef Jackson and Ronald Burkle.

The sales price set by baseball is expected to be at least $450 million. The ownership selection process has been delayed by negotiations between District officials and baseball representatives.

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