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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Expos set for move to D.C.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball will announce today that Washington will be the new home of the Montreal Expos, bringing the national pastime back to the nation’s capital for the first time in 33 years.

A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington has been notified by Major League Baseball of the impending announcement.

The city is planning a news conference at a downtown location this afternoon, the official said.

The announcement will come one day before the 33rd anniversary of the Washington Senators’ final game. The Senators moved to Texas after the 1971 season, which was also the last time a major league team changed cities.

Baseball has searched for a new home for the Expos since the financially troubled team was bought by the other 29 major league owners in 2002. The Washington official said the bidding group had been told that baseball had reached an understanding with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who had previously objected to having a team relocate just 40 miles from his franchise.

Las Vegas; Norfolk, Va.; Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Ore.; and Northern Virginia also made bids, but Washington clearly took the lead during negotiations over recent weeks, strengthened by its wealthy population base and a financial package that would build a new stadium primarily with taxpayers’ money.

The negotiations have produced a 30-page document that would conditionally award the Expos to Washington, pending approval by the City Council. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, reached at his Milwaukee home, declined comment.

Plans call for a $440 million package that would include a new ballpark to be built along the Anacostia River about a dozen blocks south of the Capitol. The package also includes a $13 million refurbishment of RFK Stadium, where the team would play for three seasons while the new facility is being built.

Washington needed an answer from Major League Baseball this week because the ballpark legislation had to be introduced by Friday in order for it to be passed by Dec. 31, when terms expire for several pro-baseball City Council members.

The move must be approved by three-quarters of major league owners and survive legal challenges by the Expos’ former limited partners.

After the announcement, the process of selling the Expos will start. A group that includes former Rangers partner Fred Malek has been seeking a Washington franchise for five years.

The original Senators played in Washington from 1901-60 before moving to Minnesota to become the Twins. The expansion Senators called Washington home from 1961-71 before moving to Texas.

In the Senators’ last game, on Sept. 30, 1971, they led the New York Yankees 7-5 with two outs in the ninth inning when fans seeking souvenirs went on the RFK Stadium field, which could not be cleared. The Yankees wound up winning the game in a forfeit.

Montreal’s last home game is scheduled tonight against Florida. Monday’s series opener drew a crowd of 3,923 to Olympic Stadium.