Official: Montreal Expos to Move to D.C.

Richard Nixon was president and man was still making trips to the moon the last time the word "Washington" appeared in the major league baseball standings.

On Opening Day, April 4, 2005, look for the nation's capital to return.

Baseball was to announce Wednesday that Washington will be the new home of the Montreal Expos (search), according to a city official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The city planned to celebrate the news with a late-afternoon news conference featuring people associated with the old Washington Senators. Charlie Brotman, the longtime Senators' public address announcer, said he was told to be at the City Museum at 5 p.m. EDT to emcee the event.

"That's what I've been officially told," Brotman said. "In addition to being a news conference, it's also a celebration."

Mayor Anthony Williams (search) was noncomittal, telling reporters Wednesday he was still waiting for official notification.

Mayor Paul D. Fraim of Norfolk, Va., one of the cities vying for the team, said officials called him Tuesday to inform him of the Expos' move to Washington, The Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday.

The announcement seemed imminent a before the 33rd anniversary of the Senators' final game. The team moved to Texas after the 1971 season, which was also the last time a major league team was relocated.

A crucial hurdle was cleared this week when, according to the city official, baseball reached an understanding with Baltimore Orioles (search) owner Peter Angelos (search), who had previously objected to having a team relocate just 40 miles from the Orioles' Camden Yards stadium.

Baseball has been looking for a new home for the Expos since the financially troubled team was bought by the other 29 major league owners in 2002.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, did not return telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday night. Angelos refused comment when reached at his home, and there was no confirmation by baseball of a deal between the commissioner's office and Angelos.

Las Vegas; Norfolk, 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.

The negotiations have produced a 30-page document that would conditionally award the Expos to Washington, pending approval by the City Council. The document had not yet been signed as of Tuesday night, the city source told the AP.

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 U.S. Capitol. The package also includes a $13 million refurbishment of RFK Stadium (search), where the team would play for three seasons while the new facility is being built.

Some baseball fans interviewed Wednesday in the District's downtown were wary of the financial implications for the cash-strapped city government.

"It's probably money that could be better spent elsewhere," said John Beckley, a Virginia resident who routinely treks to Baltimore to see the Orioles play.

But Erin Dieterich, of Silver Spring, Md., a D.C. suburb. "It's a national pastime and this is the nation's capital."

The move also 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.