Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Racist Demands May Backfire in Stadium Deal

The Washington Post reports:

Major League Baseball is likely to award ownership of the Washington Nationals to a group led by Bethesda developer Theodore N. Lerner, after efforts by District politicians and others to steer the selection to competing bidders apparently backfired, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Commissioner Bud Selig, who will decide who gets the franchise, was angered by accusations that Lerner's group was unacceptable because it had included minorities only as tokens rather than genuine partners, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the negotiations.


Baseball officials closely monitored the session at the John A. Wilson Building. There, Barry (D-Ward 8) and Orange (D-Ward 5) suggested that the Lerners recently added several high-profile African American investors to their group solely to answer MLB's call for racial diversity. Those investors won't have any significant authority or input if the Lerner family is named team owner, the council members said.

"We can't have blacks being rented for a day," Barry said. "We want real participation. We need to do better than [teams] have done around the country.

"If you name the Lerners, you're five steps backward and five years backward."

When Selig and other baseball officials learned about the comments late yesterday, they were incensed and strengthened their resolve to back Lerner, according to the sources.

DC and MLB should be looking at valid business considerations in contract negotiations, not a racist litmus test.

Update, May 4: Lerner group awarded ownership

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