Comcast Keeps Tabs on MLB-Orioles Talks

While Major League Baseball attempts to appease Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos about bringing the Montreal Expos into Washington, D.C., for the 2005 season, one very interested party waiting in the on-deck circle is Comcast Corp.

One of the proposals MLB reportedly is making to pacify the Orioles -- which would have a competitor for baseball fans in the area for the first time since the Washington Senators left to become the Texas Rangers 33 years ago -- calls for the establishment of a regional sports network that would feature both Orioles contests and those of the relocated franchise.

Published reports indicated that the Orioles and the new Washington franchise would each have ownership stakes in the regional sports network.

However, Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic is currently in the third of a five-year Orioles deal, which, this season, encompassed 87 regular-season and three exhibition games.

A spokesman for the regional sports network said that he was unaware of any contact from MLB on the issue. “If and when something does happen, I’m sure we’ll sit down with the appropriate parties,” he said.

The spokesman said the network’s contract calls for Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic to show around the same number of Orioles telecasts in the 2005 and 2006 campaigns.

In the past, the Orioles -- which have a number of over-the-air stations televising games to fans in Maryland, Washington ,Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania -- have talked about forming their own regional sports service when the team’s contract with the Comcast service expires.

MLB president and chief operating officer Bob Dupuy, who met with Angelos last Friday, was slated to have a second meeting with the Orioles boss Tuesday to discuss the Expos’ situation.

MLB’s teams have contributed monies to operate the Expos for the past three seasons, and the league appears to be readying the club for a move to Washington. An official announcement could come as early as Thursday, people with knowledge of the situation said.

Local District of Columbia officials said they need to introduce legislation that would approve financing for renovations to RFK Stadium in time to open next season. RFK would serve as the club’s home for three seasons until a new facility could be built through public funding in southeast Washington.