Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Baseball

The media is awash with "expos leaving" type reports. They claim there's an announcement coming very soon, perhaps today even. I still don't give it much credence. Maybe it'll happen. In fact, it's very possible it will. However, an official announcement means nothing at all due to many obstacles.
1) Washington DC is trying to ram through legislation making taxpayers pay for the entire cost of the $450M stadium they wanna build, this in one of the most medically and scholastically underfunded places in the country. Needless to say, there is very little public support for this. Without a stadium, there's nothing doing. Also, MLB wants to give the team to the city, without even having an owner. No owner has been selected to buy the team. They're just saying "fine, this city will have the team, now let's get someone to buy it". At that point, who's gonna give any substancial amount of money for the team?

2) The former limited partners who used to own the Expos are suing MLB and Jeffrey Loria in a RICO case (RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act). They claim MLB gave the team to Loria with no interest to keep the team here. When it proved too difficult to move the team, Loria got the Marlins for a song and a dance and MLB took control of the Expos, leaving the limited partners in the cold. They're suing for hundreds of millions of dollar and the be granted control of the team. If an attempt is made to move the team, they will seek an injunction barring the move. This case may go on quite a bit and may lead to the Expos coming back in the hands of the local partners. It can go either way.

3) Peter Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, will not accept a team 57 km out of Baltimore, in Washington. He claims the area cannot support 2 teams, as a huge chunk of his fanbase comes from DC. He claims he'd be losing more than 30% of his revenues immediately if a team enters the market. MLB has been trying to buy him off, offering him hundreds of millions of dollars, but he refuses. His losses would be in perpetuity, therefore a one-time sum will not do. He's dead-set against a team moving in, and has other owners on his side.
MLB has also allegedly offered him a minimum revenue. In other words, if a team in DC decreases his revenues below a certain amount, MLB would oay the Orioles the difference. There are so many things wrong with that. Every other teams would love to have guaranteed revenue. How can 1 of them get preferential treatment in this way? This move would also fuel the court case as evidence of a conspiracy.

Anyway, MLB can make all the announcements they want, but until these huge monkeys are off their back, there's nothing to do. So we sit and wait to see how the legal sides will play out.

If you wanna read a short, intelligent article on the matter, check this out.

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