Finances being examined

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It appears the proposed sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers to a Boston real estate developer will come down to
the Jan. 31 deadline.

Baseball's ownership committee discussed the $430 million
agreement between News Corp. and Frank McCourt on Wednesday and
will send a delegation to meet with him in Los Angeles next week.
The group will include Bill Bartholomay of the Atlanta Braves and
Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox.

The committee has been examining the financing for the deal and
whether it complies with baseball's rules on the allowable amount
of debt, a baseball official said on the condition of anonymity.

McCourt also met with several owners last week, and his
agreement calls for the sale to close by the end of January. It
won't be voted on at Thursday's meeting of all owners and Bob
DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, wouldn't say whether
commissioner Bud Selig would call for a vote later this month by
telephone conference call.

"That's all up to the commissioner," DuPuy said. "I know
there is a desire by the buyer and seller to conclude by the end of
the month, and the commissioner is aware of that."

McCourt's spokesman, Duffy Jennings, declined comment.

DuPuy said another timely topic in baseball was not brought up.

"For the first time in about three weeks, the subject of Pete
Rose was not addressed," DuPuy said after the executive council

The fate of the Montreal Expos also was up for discussion, with
the relocation committee talking about visits earlier this month to
Monterrey, Mexico, and Norfolk, Va. Baseball had spoken last year
with groups from Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and Washington,
D.C.; and DuPuy said Las Vegas and San Juan, Puerto Rico, also were

The Expos were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002
season, and are scheduled to play 22 "home" games in San Juan for
the second straight year to raise revenue.

"One of our highest priorities in New York is to get it
resolved," DuPuy said, adding that Selig would address the topic
after Thursday's meeting.

Baseball at first hoped for a decision in time for the 2003
season, then for 2004. Owners want financing in place for a new
ballpark before moving the team.

"There's nothing we can do about it this year," DuPuy said.
"We have a little breathing space."

The proposed start of a World Cup in March 2005 and plans to
start a baseball channel will be discussed Thursday.

In addition, owners will vote on changes to the annual amateur
draft and the winter meeting draft of players not protected on
40-man rosters.

Currently, teams are ranked from lowest winning percentage to
highest in their leagues, and the NL and AL alternate picks. The
change would have all teams ranked together from lowest winning
percentage to highest.

If adopted, new order would start with the 2004 winter meeting
draft in Anaheim, Calif., and the 2005 amateur draft.

Baseball officials also discussed having the World Series
champion Florida Marlins play the Houston Astros in a pair of
exhibition games at Mexico City on March 13-14. DuPuy said it was
possible that some regular-season games could be moved to Monterrey
this year, but it wasn't definite.