WASHINGTON – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig (search) said he expects team owners to vote as soon as Friday on the plan to move the Montreal Expos (search) to the nation's capital. And he was hoping to win over Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos (search).
"Yes, it will be tomorrow. Well, I hope it will be tomorrow. I'm not 100 percent sure," Selig told reporters Thursday. "It's going to be in the next day or two," he said, adding that he would like it to be unanimous.
"I like 30-nothing votes, but every so often I don't get 30 to nothing," Selig said. "You know, the majority still rules if we go to vote."
Selig said Major League Baseball's (search) chief operating officer has been meeting this week with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos to try and reach a settlement. Angelos is a vocal opponent of bringing a team to D.C., fearing it will cut into his franchise. Selig is hoping to avoid a lawsuit by Angelos aimed at stopping the move.
"We have had a close relationship and we still have a very close relationship," Selig said of Angelos.
The commissioner was in town Thursday to speak to the annual meeting of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which has aggressively backed plans to build a stadium for the newly renamed Washington Nationals.
The administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (search) and MLB signed an agreement in September under which the city will build the Nationals a 41,000 seat stadium along the Anacostia River in Southwest Washington. Williams has estimated the cost at $440 million, but a recent report from the city's chief financial officer pegged it at $530 million.
In narrowly passing the legislation Tuesday, the District of Columbia Council approved an amendment requiring the CFO to do another cost estimate in six months. If it is more than $100 million above his current estimate, it would require changing the stadium location to a less costly site.
Selig declined to answer any questions on whether the $630 million cap is a deal breaker.
"We will live up to all our ends of the deal," he said. Selig also made it clear baseball was coming to Washington.
"Baseball will live up to all its parts of the agreement unequivocally — not even worth discussing."
The council also approved an amendment requiring the city to invite and consider private financing proposals. Williams contends bulk of the costs will be covered by an additional gross receipts tax on businesses that gross more than $4 million annually.
Williams — who was out of town Thursday — has already promised to approach MLB officials. Several council members have expressed concern about several aspects of the deal, including the district being forced to cover all cost overruns, and allowing the city use of the ballpark on non-game days.
A second council vote, expected Dec. 14, is required for the deal to be completed. Under the agreement with MLB, that has to happen before Dec. 31.
The Nationals are expected to play in RFK Stadium (search) beginning in April, with the new ballpark due to open in 2008. Selig said he looks forward to being at RFK on opening day, and plans to ask President Bush to throw out the first pitch.