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September 29, 2004

Allan H. "Bud" Selig

RICH LEVIN: Commissioner Selig is now on the phone and he will say a few words and we'll follow that with questions and answers. Commissioner?
BUD SELIG: Thank you very much, Rich. Good afternoon, everybody. It's been quite an historic day. I want to congratulate the people in Washington, D.C. and we look forward to a long history with them starting next spring.
This has been a long, tough process. I want to thank the relocation committee. The relocation committee, particularly Jerry Reinsdorf and Tom Hicks and Wendy Selig-Prieb and Bob DuPuy, John McHale, Tom Ostertag, Jonathan Mariner all really have spent an enormous amount of time.
We finally have taken the first step. And I want to say today, obviously there's a lot of work to be done, but as I told Mayor Williams today, I'm going to very aggressively recommend in our November meetings that we go to Washington and I hope that they will clear all the hurdles. I think this is very exciting to are a lot of people to have baseball back in the nation's capital. This is really going to be a tremendous thing, not only for the sport, but for Washington and for the country.
There's a lot of history. If I can just digress for a minute, I'm the only person in baseball left, I was at the meeting in September of 1971 when then Commissioner Kuhn tried so desperately to find an owner, thought it was Joe Danzansky; I guess, outside of a few of you here in Washington, I guess maybe Tom Boswell, I'm the only one who remembers that, but we couldn't. And I told a group here today that that night, I told Joe Bradley (ph) we had a vote to move because frankly we were left with no options. Still feeling the effects of the Milwaukee Braves to Atlanta, I was actually physically sick that night, I felt so badly about it.
So there's redemption today and we really do look forward to bringing the Expos to Washington, D.C. It's a great area and I think that we have -- there will be a lot of excitement for us not only next year, but for many years to come.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Expo players. They certainly have had a tough road the last few years. It has been really, it's unprecedented. They have my undying gratitude for their professionalism and how they handled everything and I want to thank them.
And I also want to thank our staff. You know it was a very awkward position that we found ourselves in and I found myself in, and it was, as I've said to many of you, the last residue of contraction. But Tony Tavares, Frank Robinson and Omar Minaya, all did a remarkable job with their staff. While this wasn't a perfect process, it certainly could have been a lot course and it really was quite good. They were competitive there for a while. So they also have my undying gratitude.
I want to thank the other communities. This was a very vigorous process relocation. I can't tell you how aggressive the other areas were and how much they wanted a Major League team. And in the end, this decision was made because as with all decisions, you try to do in the end what you believe is the in the best interests of the sport. We made this decision because we believe that it is in the best interests of the sport.
But I do want to thank the other communities. I also know there's been a lot written and said, and I won't have too much more so say, but I just want to also thank Peter Angelos, who is my friend. I have a great deal of affection and a great deal of respect for him, and I certainly, as I told all of you for a long time, am very sympathetic and sensitive to his concerns. I don't think that anybody else would have reacted any differently, but I want to thank Peter for his graciousness and for his attitude throughout this process.
So, today at least for the time being, I'm happy because I have at least one less thing to worry about in the short term, and you have no idea how great that makes me feel.
I want to congratulate Mayor Williams, who whose perseverance and skills through this were all great. All of the other people in Washington who worked so hard and worked with the relocation committee, Jerry Reinsdorf, in particular, Mark Tuohey, they were really troopers in this whole situation. It's a great day for the sport and a great day for Washington and we all look forward to a wonderful, wonderful relationship.

Q. Sounds as though you do not want to get into details of your discussions with Mr. Angelos, but would you characterize the status as of this moment, would you say you have agreement in totality in, in principal, and if you could talk about what appears to be a fairly extraordinary concession on the part of the rest of the league towards this franchise.
BUD SELIG: Well, you know, look, I have a great deal of, as I said, affection for Mr. Angelos personally, as well as for the Orioles, and they have been a wonderful franchise for many, many years with a very proud history.
I've often said, and I hope all of you understood all along, I watched baseball back in other times, in the 50s and 60s, move teams without any thought as to what it was doing, not only to the existing team, but to itself. I felt very sensitive about that.
And so in the case of the Orioles, it's not only my affection and respect for Peter Angelos, but it's my feeling that you know we don't want to hurt the existing franchise. On the other hand, we wanted to go to the best place we can go to as far as Major League Baseball. I was very careful what I said before. In the end, I had a responsibility to make every decision based on what I believe is in the best interests of the sport, and this is it.
And as for the agreement, I'd really prefer to keep all of that between Mr. Angelos and myself and baseball. We have people that have been working on this, and I'm very comfortable telling you that in the end, I want equity on all sides. I'm going to say to you what I've said to everybody involved in the process, and it should be.

Q. Sounds like it's still a work-in-progress.
BUD SELIG: There's been a lot of work done, let's put it that way, John. I really don't want to comment because I really feel that's a matter that should stay between all of us.

Q. We're down in Melbourne, and the Expos have trained here the last two years and the Marlins have trained here from '94 until 2002 and left, and there's a little apprehension here about whether the Expos, or the new Washington, D.C. team, is going to stay here for spring training. Can you say definitively whether they will be back here?
BUD SELIG: I have to be honest with you, Scott, that's a question I had not really thought about, and that the new owner will have to make those kind of judgments on those kinds of things; or whether our staff will make those decisions, I don't know.
I would have to think that they would wind up staying there certainly for a while. But in the end, that will be up to the person that owns the Washington franchise.

Q. In meetings in the past you've stated like you said before, you do not want to hurt any of the existing franchises. Does this position show that you've reached a comfort level; that you're confident that a team in Washington will not hurt the Orioles?
BUD SELIG: That's a very complex situation, more complex than people really understood. I know we were criticized for taking too long, but it's unprecedented in history. I said very carefully when I was answering John Morgan's question that I wanted there to be equity on all sides. I am very sensitive about that, and I believe that as we move forward, there will be equity on all sides.

Q. But not just equity among the owners, but as a franchise and fans, are you basically comfortable that having two teams together; that's not too close?
BUD SELIG: I think I've answered the question, Ron. I think when all is said and done, we made this decision, along with all of the other parts of this arrangement, and I believe that in the end, this is in the best interests of the sport and there will be equity on all sides.

Q. How soon do you think you can have a new owner in place?
BUD SELIG: That's a question I've been asked today. We'll start tomorrow and we'll start moving ahead on all of the other moving parts of this situation.
I hope pretty soon. The sooner we can get it all done, the better off we'll all be. And frankly, the sooner we have a new owner, the better off we'll all be. I won't give you a timetable, but we'll move as expeditiously as humanly possible.

Q. Where so many things happen in the off-season, free agency and that type of thing, would Major League Baseball and Tony Tavares take care of these matters in the interim till you get a new owner?
BUD SELIG: That's all to be worked out, but I think the question to that probably would be yes.

Q. What is the status of the name and logo and uniforms; will it be the Washington Expos for the foreseeable future, and when is -- how is the identity of this club going to be changed?
BUD SELIG: You're getting into -- and that's a good question. But you're getting into some questions that obviously will need to be addressed, and a lot of these will be addressed by the new ownership. I mean, it's up to them, as in most other areas we've gone into expansion or relocation, to determine exactly, you know, what the name should be and so on and so forth.
Really, there should be -- there's going to be a name that I would think symbolizes the Washington, D.C. franchise.

Q. But they are the Washington Expos until otherwise noted?
BUD SELIG: Well, the good news, Eric, is they won't play any games till next April.

Q. So this process will definitely be done by then?
BUD SELIG: As my mother used to say, "God willing," yes.

Q. You said earlier on the call that it's your feeling that you don't want to hurt the existing franchise, but on the other hand, we want to go to the best place we can go to as far as Major League Baseball. A lot of Santa Clara county interests believe that the best place for the A's in the interests of all of baseball is Santa Clara County and even Steve Schott has expressed a desire to move to the area. I'm wondering how this decision to move the Montreal franchise into the Washington area, in light of Baltimore's concerns, has any bearing on the territory rights question in the Bay Area?
BUD SELIG: It doesn't have any bearing at all because the Washington area was not officially part of baseball's territory. San Jose is part of the San Francisco Giants territory.
I've said in the past that we must -- because we run a sport that needs to have rules and internal rules, that the clubs' territories really have always been treated with great respect. And so when a team is sold, and a territory exists near their's is, we don't change that. This is a completely different thing, so it is not a proper analogy, frankly.

Q. You said in July you would do nothing that would make Peter Angelos unhappy. Do you think this move will make him unhappy?
BUD SELIG: Murray, I was very careful in what I said. I meant it at the time. I have declared my feelings of sensitivity and feelings for Peter over and over again.
As I said to all of our guys as we came down to the conclusion that there had to be equity on all sides, and yes, I do believe that that is the case. So I'm comfortable with what's been done.

Q. Do you believe that what is the case?
BUD SELIG: That there is equity on all sides, and that Peter is -- that Peter has been treated fairly.

Q. But does that deem by being treated fairly that he is not unhappy; have you determined that?
BUD SELIG: Look, I can't speak for Peter. Just knowing my relationship, and he and I have spoken a lot lately, I think he understands where we are. And he and I have had great conversations and very friendly conversations.

Q. Does this open the door to the movement of other franchises in the not-too-distant future, franchises that might not have a stadium deal together?
BUD SELIG: No. Look, this was a team that had to be moved. I mean for all of the reasons I don't think we have to articulate and I would not read anything more into it than that. This is a team we knew we had to relocate, and we said we had to relocate, since baseball didn't want to own it anymore. But I wouldn't read any more precedence into that than exists.

Q. What I mean, though, is does that mean the door is open for future movement or --
BUD SELIG: I'm saying to you, I wouldn't read anything more into it. This was a team owned by baseball that we were anxious to move and to get rid of. And I don't think it establishes precedence in any way for any other franchise.

Q. What impact, if any, did the location of the potential new D.C. stadium have, particularly the fact that it's in an area that desperately needs urban development?
BUD SELIG: Well, those things are always very, very helpful. I would say the mayor and everybody around him was very aggressive in doing what they did, and it's always a very positive consideration. So here we are back in our nation's capital in an area that I think will help. Of course, sociologically, that's exactly the kind of thing that we like to do and hope we have done. That's a plus, no question about it.

Q. Was there a tipping point that led you on the road to Washington, or was it a matter of kind of Washington was the leader the whole way along?
BUD SELIG: No, the relocation committee spent -- I mean, really, literally thousands of hours and considered a lot of areas and went through a really long process, carefully considering all of our options and they didn't make a recommendation to me till frankly a short time ago. For a myriad of reasons, frankly, the Washington proposal, City of Washington, everything about it, they finally made that recommendation to me. And I, after a lot of thought and a lot of questions agreed with them.
But, it was a long, arduous, very, very difficult process. I mean, all of the cities that were vying -- and a lot of the cities made tremendous presentations and really desperately wanted it, too. I know there's a lot of disappointment in some places today, but this is another one of those times in life where you can't make everybody happy.

Q. What is the status of the deal with Peter?
BUD SELIG: I don't know that I heard the question.
Well, yes, I already dealt with that. I said that I'm very sensitive to my feelings about him and my own personal affection and respect for him, and that I wanted -- that equity on all sides was really to be the key here. If anything, we were going to bend over backwards as far as any concern and I think we have. Other than that, the deal itself I think should remain between Peter and the people who have worked on it and me.

Q. But has a deal been reached; is there a compensation deal?
BUD SELIG: I said earlier and I'm going to say it again, the deal, the terms of the deal are going to stay between us.

Q. Now that a decision has been reached, can you comment on the bids of Portland and Las Vegas, and if you could also talk about them as future relocation candidates?
BUD SELIG: I meant when I said before, the other communities, that includes Portland, Las Vegas and North Virginia and Hampton Roads, they made wonderful presentations. I know a lot of people couldn't understand why it was taking so long, but I tell you, these were tough decisions. The relocation committee was very thorough in every community, I mean, very thorough. So they really looked at everything.
So I know there's disappointment in Northern Virginia, Portland, Las Vegas, Hampton Roads and Monterrey, but they certainly -- they have certainly put their best foot forward. You know, I can't -- I certainly can't make any commitments today, but they made great presentations and terrific packages.

Q. Do you expect another team to relocate within five years?
BUD SELIG: Oh, I don't know that. There's nobody now that I know of, but, you know, I've learned long ago not to say never about anything.

Q. What happens if the finance package for the stadium falls through?
BUD SELIG: Well, the Washington people have been quite optimistic about, it and I'm very hopeful, and they were very hopeful today, and they seem to be confident about their ability to get it. So after all of this, I'm going to be an optimist and hope that they get it through and believe they will.

Q. What if it doesn't happen?
BUD SELIG: Well, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I hope we never have that -- I hope we are never faced with that possibility.

Q. Was the quality of this most recent D.C. bid essentially similar or in any way radically different from the many other times that baseball has gone after either the Expos or expansion franchises?
BUD SELIG: This was, I tell you, this was a very impressive bid. It's a very impressive bid. It showed the real commitment, their dedication to getting something done. It was -- the more the process went on, and they were very aggressive, by the way. They were tenacious.
And so I would say from a Washington standpoint this was their finest hour.
Thank you, everybody. I appreciate your patience and rich, unless you have anything else, I think that's it.
RICH LEVIN: I want to thank everyone for calling in and we appreciate it and we'll talk to you again.

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