- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

Washington Baseball Club, the District-based effort to land a major league franchise, has added Washington Redskins legend Darrell Green, D.C. power broker Vernon Jordan and former Walt Disney Co. senior executive Dennis Hightower to its group of investors.
The additions give the still somewhat anonymous group a significant jolt of star power as its search for a team approaches a potential conclusion.
The additions are in keeping with the goal of WBC managing partner Fred Malek, a District financier, to expand the six-member group by as many as 12 and include more minorities. Of the six original WBC investors Malek, American Online Inc. co-founder Jim Kimsey, Fannie Mae chairman Franklin Raines, real estate investment executive Joe Robert and lawyers Paul Wolff and Steven Porter only Raines is a minority.
"We have found three great people who share in our vision for returning baseball to the District and are steadfast in their commitment to the city," said Winston Lord, WBC executive director. "All three epitomize the type of people we want to join our family."
Green, considered one of the greatest Redskins ever, is a seven-time NFL Pro Bowl selection at cornerback. He is also founder and chairman of the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation, which is active in boosting opportunities for children living in at-risk environments.
Jordan is best known as a close adviser to former President Bill Clinton who helped arrange a job for Monica Lewinsky and then became a central figure in the ensuing Lewinsky investigation. Jordan is senior managing partner of Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, a New York-based investment banking and asset management firm. He long has been active in senior roles for minority groups, including the National Urban League and the NAACP, and is a board member of Malek's equity investment firm, Thayer Capital Partners.
Hightower worked as president of Walt Disney Television and Communications and then headed the corporation's consumer products division for Europe, the Middle East and Asia during the late 1980s and 1990s. A native Washingtonian, he also has held executive positions with Xerox Corp., General Electric Corp and Mattel Inc., and is a trustee of Howard University.
Hightower served eight years in the U.S. Army, serving in Vietnam, as did Malek and Kimsey, and rose to the rank of major before resigning to enter the private sector. Both Malek and Hightower are on the board of directors of Northwest Airlines Inc.
"This isn't about a bunch of rich guys buying a team and getting richer," Green said. "This is about acquiring a tool to enrich our community. A lot of people belittle athletics, but we're a stronger community, a tighter and more connected one, with sports, particularly when our teams are winning. These are very civic-minded, like-minded people. That's why I got involved."
District Mayor Anthony Williams, who has long encouraged Malek and his partners to diversify the group, met with Green last week to discuss the Redskins' involvement. The city, through the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission, has an active working relationship with WBC to pursue a team.
"This new package is stronger and more formidable," the mayor said through a spokesman.
Green's joining WBC also creates a rivalry of sorts between him and his boss, Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson and Snyder recently expressed interest in owning a local baseball team. WBC first approached Green months ago, long before Snyder talked publicly about baseball. But even if Snyder wanted Green in his bid group, the NFL's collective bargaining agreement with the players would most likely preclude that as long as Green is an active player for the Redskins.
The exact shares of ownership in WBC for Green, Jordan and Hightower have not been determined, though each is entering as a "limited partner." Rather, the group intends to determine the individual levels of investment after landing a franchise and the cost of acquisition is determined. Money, however, will not be a problem; the group was worth an estimated $2billion before the additions.
Despite the extensive professional accomplishments of the original members and three years of seeking a team, WBC remains something of an unknown entity in Washington. The lack of mass public awareness was most palpable last week during a public forum on choosing a site in the city for a ballpark.
WBC members said yesterday the new additions were not specifically designed to raise their public profile, but acknowledged that the trio will help greatly in improving recognition of the group.
"Each of these men brings something different to the table and will help us in different ways," Lord said. "There is no denying that Darrell, for example, is beloved in this area, extremely well known and epitomizes Washington."
Malek was traveling in Europe yesterday and unavailable for comment. More additions to the group are expected in coming months.
In recent months, several Major League Baseball executives, including commissioner Bud Selig, have branded the Washington area as "inevitable" for relocation and "the prime candidate" for a team. Any team moves, however, will be delayed until owners and players settle their fractious negotiations on a new labor deal.

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