- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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Major League Baseball president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said that there is no panic to immediately rid baseball's owners of the Expos.
"I think the clubs have been terrific," DuPuy told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We gave them a full briefing about why we didn't accept an offer last year and there was not a single complaint about the decision to defer the final resolution until this year. We told the clubs at the owners' meeting that a permanent resolution to the Expos situation, for a host of different reasons, was on the top of our priority list and it continues to be our intention to have this all resolved in time for the 2005 season."
Sources told ESPN.com that baseball executives, along with the ownership relocation committee that includes Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, hope to determine their city of choice before the end of the season. That leaves little time to get everything in place.
"We have felt all along that the way this will work best is for us to be able to negotiate a facility deal in the most suitable location and we would have no difficulty in locating an ownership group that would be willing to operate in that city," DuPuy said, noting that a previous 2004 All-Star Game deadline was imposed in order to help factor in scheduling for the following season. "That's the way the NBA just did their expansion with Charlotte and we're just replicating that model."
League executives seem to be confident that there are businesspeople who would be willing to own the Expos in any city that Major League Baseball chooses.
"Several ownership groups have approached us, some like Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia tied to specific areas, others simply interested in owning a Major League Baseball team," DuPuy said.
DuPuy would not comment on specific proposals or the viability of cities, but he did mention that "Las Vegas is a real and serious candidate."
"We're not desperate in unloading the franchise, otherwise we would have done it last year," he said. "We are looking to sell the team in a rational and economically sensible manner that will ensure the long-term viability of the sport in that location."
DuPuy would not comment on a recent published report that stated that the Major League Baseball owners had lost $60 million on the franchise since purchasing for $120 million before the 2002 season.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at email@example.com.