Wednesday, September 29, 2004

MONTREAL — Former Major League Baseball officials, real estate developers and cable television excutives are expected to be among a large field of bidders for the Montreal Expos.

Major League Baseball yesterday awarded the Expos to Washington, and baseball sources say the league will sell the club through an auction process.

The team then would be sold to the highest bidder with whom league officials — primarily commissioner Bud Selig — are comfortable.

Selig will have a growing field of suitors from whom to choose.

Former Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten reportedly has put together an investment group to bid on the Expos. Cablevision boss Charles Dolan, unsuccessful three years ago in his attempt to buy the Boston Red Sox, also is expected to bid.

The Washington Baseball Club, a local group led by financier Fred Malek, has spent several million dollars to return baseball to the District. The group holds an agreement with the city that gives it the exclusive right to operate a baseball team at RFK Stadium and at the proposed ballpark on the Anacostia waterfront when it is completed.

However, the league is not bound by the agreement.

The group has so far concentrated on getting the club relocated to the District, but is now preparing to make its case to own the team.

“When the time is appropriate and the attention turns to ownership groups, we will put our best foot forward,” said Winston Lord, the group’s executive director.

Mark Broxmeyer, a Long Island real estate developer with strong political connections, already has declared his intention to bid on the Expos.

“Baseball will be looking for the best price available,” he said.

Still, other groups are also expected to enter the bidding.

The price of the club is expected to soar in auction because of the attractive ballpark deal the District has offered propective owners.

The club is worth about $108million in Montreal, according to Forbes Magazine. However, the franchise is expected to go for much more — as high as $300million — now that it has been awarded to Washington.

However, the process that determines who will own the Expos likely will be lengthy, one that could extend the league’s ownership of the club into the 2005 season.

Expos President Tony Tavares told The Washington Times on Tuesday that he doubted a new owner could be named before February 2005 at the earliest and that it might not happen until May or June.

The Washington Baseball Club has the financial backing, local connections and minority investors that league desires.

Former Washington Redskins great Darrell Green, District power broker Vernon Jordan and Dennis Hightower, former president of Walt Disney Television, are limited partners. Malek has said other investors could be added.

Former New York Yankee Reggie Jackson’s name also has been mentioned as possibly bringing in an ownership group to bid on the team.

One other potential bidder has also expressed interest in buying the Washington franchise, though little is known about it.

DSG Baseball of Nashville, Tenn., is led by Brian Saulsberry, a Howard University graduate and general partner of the DSG Investment Fund. The group includes former major league catcher Tom Pagnozzi, who reportedly has met with Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer, to express the group’s interest in purchasing the Expos.

Virginia Baseball still could make a bid for the club. The group, led by Bill Collins, has pursued baseball for the region longer than any other.

But Collins’ efforts have been solely based on putting a team in Northern Virginia, and he has not expressed intent to pursue a team that would be in the District.

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