St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote:Major league baseball's return to Washington might be for one year only.
The District of Columbia Council voted Tuesday night to require private financing for at least half the cost of a new ballpark for the Expos, a move that might cause the commissioner's office to reopen the search for a long-term home for the franchise.
Capping an 11 1/2 hours of contentious debate, the council voted 7-6 to approve legislation to finance construction of a ballpark. But the bill contained the amendment on private financing, a provision not contained in the September agreement between the Expos and Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
"We will review the amendments and the legislation as passed and have a response," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.
If the law stands, baseball's likely response would be to have the team play the 2005 season at Washington's RFK Stadium, where it would be known as the Nationals, while baseball's search committee resumes negotiations with cities that desire the team.
The Expos were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season and, from the start, baseball owners insisted a publicly financed stadium for the team be a component of any move.
Council Chair Linda Cropp offered the private-financing provision, saying it would be crucial for her support. She was considered the swing vote on the 13-member council.
Jack Evans, baseball's most passionate advocate on the council, said the provision could be a deal breaker. "This gives baseball an out," he said.