MLB EXPANSION: WAS THERE QUID PRO QUO FOR NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Following yesterday's WASHINGTON TIMES report that Northern
VA was promised a team by MLB Expansion Committee Chair John
Harrington, this morning's WASHINGTON POST reports that VA Sen.
John Warner has "agreed to withdraw his support of a plan to
limit" MLB's antitrust status. According to Grayson Winterling,
one of Warner's top aides, the senator "was kind of bought off."
Harrington could not be reached for comment, but acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We are not in the habit of
promising teams to people." VA's other senator, Democrat Charles
Robb, said "he was not taking a position on the antitrust
exemption at this time, partly because recent discussions with
baseball officials led him to believe that Northern Virginia
would get a team so soon." Robb: "There was no quid pro quo,
but it was sort of an informal understanding that baseball was
coming to Northern Virginia." MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr on the
owners: "Whenever they feel pressure on the antitrust exemption,
they want to try to buy off votes. I just hope that people on
the Hill understand that for what it is" (Lipton and Maske,
WASHINGTON POST, 2/23).
GAINING MOMENTUM: Northern VA's bid for an MLB expansion
team gained "momentum" this week as the VA General Assembly
approved the creation of a stadium authority Tuesday that "sets
in motion the financing system needed to build a ballpark" in the
area. The VA Baseball Stadium Authority would have the power to
issue bonds and oversee operations of a state-built ballpark.
Gov. George Allen is expected to sign the legislation (WASHINGTON