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ISSUE 118 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/8/2004

Have team will travel: Expos on the move

By Philip Porembski
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 8, 2004

At one point in time, it was rare for a professional sports team to shift hometowns. Unfortunately, some team owners are becoming more concerned about the economic benefits of relocating rather than being loyal to their fans.

In recent years, the Grizzlies have left Vancouver for Memphis; the Oilers have transferred from Houston to Tennessee; and now the Montreal Expos are headed to Washington, D.C.

"We don't want to see them go. But economically, the team is probably not so important," said Michael Prescott, the vice president of Montreals governing council, in a recent Washington Post article. The Expos recognize their incompatibility with Montreal and look to draw bigger audiences, as well as profits, in Washington.

In the same Washington Post article, Katie Hynes, a disappointed Expos fan, conjectures that the reason for the move lies with major league owners in the United States wanting to weaken Canadian teams.

This argument is open for debate. It is more likely that the Expos believe the only way they can compete with other teams is to settle elsewhere in the United States.

Like all businesses, teams compete with other teams to be the wealthiest and most popular. If all teams were willing to sacrifice some greed, then there would be less competition, and more reasons to stay in one place.

Furthermore, if there was less need to remain economically competitive with other teams, the Expos would remain in Montreal. Nevertheless, the Expos, as well as other teams, are forced to move to another city to remain an economic contender.

The likely arrival of the Expos in Washington, D.C., will be controversial as the Baltimore Orioles are in close vicinity. Major League Baseballs relocation committee is planning to send the Expos to RFK (Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy) stadium in Washington, D.C., as a new stadium will be built within two years.

Although the Expos new home will be in Washington, Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos worries that his team will lose ticket sales revenue as a result.

Angelos will not be able to block the move, as there is overwhelming MLB support for the new $400 million stadium. Dont feel sympathetic towards Angelos, as the MLB is approving a compensatory financial package for him.

Who will not be compensated? The die-hard Expos fans who will lose a team, and some Orioles fans who do not want to share home ground with the Expos.

It is a shame that the interests of administrative tycoons in MLB are more important than those of the fans.

Perhaps if there were more die-hard Expos fans to increase ticket revenue the team would have stayed in Montreal. The league ultimately pushes teams to go where money is plentiful.

The case of the Orioles and Expos exemplifies the competitive nature and greed of MLB. Its first priority is making MLB profitable  not how to make fans satisfied. If the reverse were true, the league would sacrifice some money and more teams would stay put.

Often, if teams wish for a new or renovated stadium are unfufilled, they threaten to leave. As a Green Bay resident, I witnessed the Packers pressure its citys residents to endorse a multimillion-dollar renovation. The Packers would have moved or become extinct had citizens not agreed to the renovations by a majority vote.

Packers President Bob Harlan said that it was impossible to stay economically competitive with other teams who were upgrading their stadiums. Most sports fans do not want to lose their team. Consequently, they face more taxes to pay for renovations, as Green Bay residents are.

When a team like the Expos is unpopular, there are not enough fans to prevent it from moving. Still, the Expos will leave many fans cries unheard because the leagues ears are plugged with too many dollar bills.

Contributing writer Phillip Porembski is a junior from Green Bay, Wis. He majors in English and history.

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