- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

The Washington Baseball Club is courting Washington power broker Vernon Jordan to join their investment group that is seeking to bring major league baseball back to the District, local baseball sources said.

The Washington group, led by financier Fred Malek, is expected to announce the addition of new investors soon, possibly as early as next week. Sources said that one of those new members could be Jordan, the former head of the National Urban League who went on to become a powerful lawyer, lobbyist and a key figure in the Monica Lewinsky investigation during the Clinton administration.

Jordan, a senior executive partner in the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, is a member of the board of advisers of Malek's equity investment firm, Thayer Capital Partners. He could not be reached for comment.

If Jordan enters into the baseball effort, he will join the existing Washington baseball group that includes Franklin D. Raines, the chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, America Online co-founder James Kimsey, J.E. Robert Co. chairman Joe Robert and Washington attorneys Stephen Porter and Paul Wolff.

Wolff would not comment on whether or not Jordan was being recruited, but did confirm that the group is seeking to increase its minority representation.

"Our agreement with the city spells out a commitment to having diverse ownership, and we are not ignoring that," Wolff said. "The mayor has made it clear, as well as Major League Baseball, that ownership should reflect the city, and we are very in tune with that."

City residents can comment on the District's baseball effort at least the search for a new ballpark site at a public meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Howard University Hospital Auditorium. The meeting will be hosted by the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Washington Baseball Club. Some of the sites that have been discussed include the Mount Vernon Square area and near RFK Stadium.

Washington Baseball is one of three groups looking to bring major league baseball back to the area since the Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas, after the 1971 season.

Another group, Virginia Baseball, Inc., which hopes to place a team in Northern Virginia, seeks to finalize a proposed five-year, $5million extension to the group's status as the state's preferred baseball ownership at a meeting tonight. But that meeting was called off as negotiations between the two sides continue.

The groups were supposed to approve the contract at a May30 authority meeting, one day before the original agreement expired. But after four hours of deliberation, authority members agreed to extend the contract as negotiations continue. The authority is scheduled to meet again July11, and a decision on an agreement is expected to be reached then.

The authority is reviewing the financial viability of Virginia Baseball, led by telecommunications executive William Collins, whose company, Metrocall, Inc., filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. Collins has said the bankruptcy filing is separate from Virginia Baseball and does not affect his investment in the group.

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who along with Black Entertainment Television network founder Robert Johnson is also seeking to bring major league baseball to Washington, said recently he has contacted the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority to discuss possible talks. However, as long as the authority has an existing contract with the Collins group, it is barred from negotiating with any other group for an exclusivity deal. Virginia Baseball, Inc., has paid the authority $3.6million in grants and loans the vast majority of funding for the authority since 1997.

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