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D.C. Council to vote Tuesday on measure

WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia leaders announced an
agreement Monday night that they said would bring the deal to move
the Montreal Expos to Washington back from the brink of collapse.

The District of Columbia Council was to move Tuesday on the
measure, which was agreed to following negotiations among Mayor
Anthony A. Williams, D.C. Council Chair Linda W. Cropp and baseball
officials.

"We are now able to bring baseball to our city," Williams
said. "But we can do it in a way that I think protects our city in
terms of risks, in terms of costs, in terms of the overall
integrity of the deal."

The compromise plan for the 41,000-seat ballpark along the
Anacostia River, south of the Capitol, allows private financing and
splitting the liability for cost overruns and missed construction
deadlines evenly between the city and Major League Baseball,
Williams spokesman Chris Bender said.

Williams' office will keep the council informed on all private
funding proposals it receives. In return, Cropp agreed to drop a
provision she inserted last week that would void the deal if the
city couldn't find a private donor to pay at least half the
construction costs.

Baseball officials were optimistic that the plan would meet
their expectations. If a financing law is in place by Dec. 31 and
baseball commissioner Bud Selig declares that arrangements are
satisfactory to have the team play at RFK Stadium in 2005, the
franchise would move to Washington and be renamed the Nationals.

"We remain hopeful that the council will pass legislation
consistent with the stadium agreement so we can move forward with
the Nationals in D.C.," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating
officer, who negotiated by telephone from New York.

Monday's discussion included ways to limit the penalties the
city would face if the stadium is not completed on time.

"We can basically buy liability insurance for that," said
Bender. "The city and baseball would split the cost of that
evenly."

The key to the deal was a private funding proposal that would
net the city $100 million from a Cleveland-based firm for a cut of
curbside parking fees for the next 20 years. Cropp had enough
confidence in that proposal that she agreed to make it the sole
source of private funds for the city if no other viable private
offers were made, Bender said.