NEW YORK -- The Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball reached agreement Thursday on a deal that will allow games involving the new Washington Nationals to be televised.
The Orioles and Nationals will form a joint venture, backed by MLB, to allow fans in the Baltimore-Washington market to watch both
"This agreement, I believe, satisfies the competing interests with which we've had to contend to place a team in the nation's capital," commissioner Bud Selig said in a release. "From the very beginning, I was deeply concerned by the potential material effect this move to Washington, D.C., which is in such close proximity to Baltimore, would have on the Orioles, its ownership and its fan base."
The Nationals relocated from Montreal in the offseason and are owned by MLB's other 29 teams. Baseball is in the process of trying to sell the Nationals, and there are several potential buyers.
The lack of a deal with the Orioles had prevented Nationals games from being televised during spring training, aside from those shown on either the Orioles' network or ESPN. Washington plays its season opener Monday at Philadelphia.
"Any time there's a TV deal in place, it's good for the fans and it makes the team worth more for new owners," Nationals
catcher Brian Schneider said before Thursday's exhibition game
against Florida in Jupiter, Fla. "It means more revenue and that
means more dollars for the payroll."
Over the past decade, Montreal struggled to set up a TV network. The Expos did not have a television contract in 2003, and last year showed only about one-fifth of their games on English language TV.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos had fought the Expos' move to Washington, saying it would have a "profound adverse impact" on his team.
The right to televise the games had been the subject of almost daily, drawn-out negotiations between baseball and Angelos.
"My objective throughout this entire effort has been to protect the Orioles' franchise now and for the future and what has been discussed over the past several months has been focused on that goal. The settlement addresses that need for protection and helps ensure the viability of the Orioles' franchise," Angelos said in the MLB release.