Council chair says one investor interested
WASHINGTON -- Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams agreed Wednesday to consider a plan by District of City Council Chair Linda W. Cropp that calls for the city to consider private financing for the proposed ballpark for the Expos.
"By all means we want to do that, and I certainly fully endorse it," Williams said, adding that any deal must accommodate the city's agreement with the Expos, which contains a Dec. 31 deadline for financing to become law.
Cropp postponed Tuesday's scheduled vote on the mayor's ballpark plan for two weeks.
"Let's just see what happens," she said. "I think it can be achieved," she said, adding she had a "responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the cost" of the $435 million project.
Cropp claims one financier has approached her offering $350 million, but she declined to identify the investor or to detail that proposal.
City officials said a private investor would not be able to profit from the revenue promised to the Expos, such as naming rights for the stadium or concession income. Rather, Cropp said the incentive would be profits through a "tax advantage."
"It can be win-win," D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission chairman Mark Touhey said. "I think there are much better proposals that we're going to be seeing."
The votes of seven of 13 council members are needed for approval.
Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
While the proposed move is on the preliminary agenda for the next meeting of baseball owners, on Nov. 18 in Chicago, it's unclear if the decision by the council to delay its vote on financing will cause baseball to put off approval of the move.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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