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Thursday, November 14
 
Study details potential stadium sites, finances

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- One of the groups trying to bring a major league baseball team to Washington released a study Thursday detailing five possible sites for a stadium, as well as an outline showing how the team could be profitable.

The study was accompanied by a letter to commissioner Bud Selig from the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. It said a private-public financing partnership for a stadium could be completed within 120 days.

"We wanted to get the message to major league baseball that we have done all the necessary work to return baseball to D.C.,'' said Fred Malek, head of the Washington Baseball Club. "And that this group is for real.''

Three prominent groups are vying to bring a team to the area, which has been without baseball since the expansion Senators became the Texas Rangers 30 years ago. Malek's group is competing against a group led by telecommunications executive William Collins, who wants to put the team in northern Virginia, and a group led by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

The $300,000, 70-page study is the most detailed report from any group since hopes surfaced that the Montreal Expos might be relocated to the area, possibly in 2004. The Expos are currently without an owner, and there are plans to play some of their home games in Puerto Rico next year.

The study, performed by six independent firms that specialize in different facets of stadium development, estimated that a 41,000-seat stadium within the Washington city limits could cost between $342 million and $542 million -- including land costs and various other expenses -- depending on its location.

The least expensive option would be to build the stadium on a parking lot at RFK Stadium, by the banks of the Anacostia River. There are also three potential sites a few blocks north of the Capitol, and another on the southeast waterfront.

"We have multiple sites with different positives,'' said Bobby Goldwater, chairman of the Sports and Entertainment Commission. "That's a mighty strong message.''

Any team that comes to the Washington area would play two or three seasons at RFK while the new stadium is built.

The study's financial details are less concrete because of the uncertainties of baseball's economics, but it estimates that a team would turn a profit of $11 million to $34 million a year. The estimate doesn't include the price of the team, which could end up being very high if baseball decides to let the three groups bid for it.

"No way of knowing. No way to research it,'' Goldwater said. "Which model do you use?''

Malek's bid is contingent on $200 million from the D.C. government. The money has been pledged by Mayor Anthony Williams, but it would require approval by the city council.

The study was sent to the commissioner's office earlier this week. Malek said he's waiting to see how baseball will react.

"It cost a lot of money and took a long time,'' Malek said of the study. "We've got some viable stadium sites and some plans for financing.''