SBD/Issue 55/Franchises

Expos Release Sked With 22 San Juan Games, MLBPA Not Pleased

The Expos' '03 features 59 home games at Olympic Stadium and 22 games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The club's first regular-season homestand will be in San Juan, April 11-20 against the Mets (April 11-14), Braves (April 15-17) and Reds (April 18-20). The Expos will open their Olympic Stadium schedule April 22 against the D'Backs (Expos). While the Expos remaining San Juan homestands feature the Angels (June 3-5), Rangers (June 6-8), Marlins (September 5-7) and Cubs (September 8-10), MLBPA Associate General Counsel Gene Orza said, "The games require the approval of the players' association. They have not yet given their approval. [The Expos] should not have put out the schedule." But MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy said MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations & HR Rob Manfred and the union "are working to get approval of the Puerto Rico games, and I assume that will be forthcoming" (AP, 11/27).

PLANNING THEIR FUTURE: Atlanta business exec Charles Vaughn said that he has "revamped his international investor group and will make his formal pitch" to MLB to buy the Expos before Christmas. Vaughn said that the names of group members, which include several investors from Puerto Rico and two from the U.S., "will be released after the application is submitted." In Atlanta, David Markiewicz noted promoter Angelo Medina is "no longer part of the Vaughn investor group, but is involved in the 22-game [San Juan] schedule." Vaughn said, "In no way do those games distract us or take away our focus. What we're proposing is Puerto Rico's team, not the ... Expos playing in Puerto Rico. It's a different product entirely" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 12/1). In Toronto, Geoff Baker wrote the RICO lawsuit by 14 former Expos limited partners "just might keep the Expos in Montreal for several more years to come." While the partners "aren't happy about the Expos playing games in Puerto Rico," attorney Jeffrey Kessler said that it is "doubtful they'll seek a court injunction to block that move." But Kessler "warned that the former partners would seek an injunction if someone tries to permanently move the team." Kessler: "My speculation is that baseball was well aware that if they tried to move the team this year, they would have been faced with a preliminary injunction from us." Robert Kheel, an attorney for the commissioner's office, said that the lawsuit "hasn't affected baseball's long-term plans for the Expos" (TORONTO STAR, 11/30).

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