- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

D.C. Council member Jack Evans will meet today with John McHale, Major League Baseball’s chief administrative officer, as District officials try to advance the city’s baseball bid in the waning days before MLB’s expected decision on the Montreal Expos’ future.

The session finally will put a key member of MLB’s relocation committee in the same room with Evans, chairman of the council’s finance committee and the current gatekeeper of the District’s $338.7million ballpark bill. Evans missed a June20 meeting between Mayor Anthony A. Williams and other city officials and the relocation committee.

Evans last week significantly altered the District’s bid for baseball by demanding MLB executives first commit to moving the Expos to Washington before legislative work continues on either a public-sector financing package for a new ballpark or developing a site for that stadium. The move instantly reversed years of Washington subjugation before baseball and was widely cheered by local residents.

“To be honest, I don’t know why they’re coming,” Evans said yesterday. “If they’re coming to say the team is coming to Washington, then, yes, I’m very interested. But beyond that, what are they doing?”

The session was arranged by Susan Linsky, special assistant in the city office of planning and economic development, and Bobby Goldwater, executive director of the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission.

Evans expressed amazement yesterday at the attention his unplanned power play has generated.

“I did not anticipate at all the attention this would get. It’s been overwhelming,” Evans said. “People are stopping me in the street. I’m hearing from people I haven’t talked to in years. But what this says is there is enormous frustration out there toward baseball. People want answers. The question now is whether baseball gets the message.”

McHale declined comment yesterday.

The relocation committee is expected to make a recommendation on the MLB-owned Expos by the July15 All-Star Game.

Meanwhile, Long Island developer Mark Broxmeyer continues to develop his bid for a D.C.-area team, yesterday hiring Lehman Bros. as his financial advisor for the baseball effort.

Lehman Bros., one of Wall Street’s leading firms in helping broker sales of pro sports teams, previously had been advising Black Entertainment Television chairman Robert Johnson. Now the owner of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats, Johnson also had a fledgling baseball bid with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder before pulling out in the spring.

Last week, a prospective ownership group led by District financier Fred Malek also hired an investment banker, retaining Goldman Sachs & Co.

Details on the bid from Broxmeyer, chairman of Commack, N.Y.-based Fairfield Properties, remain rather sketchy. Broxmeyer, whose bid first surfaced in February, has no stated preference on the team being based in either the District or Northern Virginia and yesterday offered no specific opinion on the significant site issues troubling the commonwealth’s baseball efforts. Broxmeyer’s investors to date include his brother Gary and son Michael. Other partners, such as former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, are possibilities.

“We’re eagerly awaiting word from baseball on the Expos,” Broxmeyer said. “Baseball absolutely belongs in the national capital area. Once we learn what is happening, we plan to move very quickly. It is very frustrating to have to sit back and wait, but we respect and understand baseball’s process. And if we’re successful, we will run this smartly and like a business. We are not driven by ego.”

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