Long Island real estate magnate Mark Broxmeyer has entered
a spirited competition to buy the Montreal Expos, making his desires known in
an initial meeting Friday with top Major League Baseball executives.
Broxmeyer, founding partner of Commack-based Fairfield Properties and
author of a true rags-to-riches story, is assembling what he termed a "dream
team" in his effort to win baseball's approval to purchase the Expos and move
them to the Washington, D.C., area. Broxmeyer declined to name other members of
his team beyond brother Gary and son Michael, but speculation centers on
heavyweight political figures, considering Broxmeyer's background. Broxmeyer
candidate Steve Forbes, two men who could add considerable luster, and loot in
Forbes' case, to Broxmeyer's team.
Broxmeyer enters a competition that already includes three long-established
Washington-area groups. While his out-of-area residence and late entry into
the fray handicap him slightly, he has a history of overcoming odds. Broxmeyer,
practically penniless after the mortgage company he worked for in the early
'70s went out of business, built a real-estate empire so successful that the
Broxmeyers are believed to be worth a half-billion dollars. Deep pockets and
strong real-estate and finance backgrounds are among their selling points for a
team that would need to construct a ballpark after likely starting in 2004 at
RFK Stadium, which opened in October 1961.
Baseball prefers local ownership but has made exceptions, approving
DeWitt's acquisition of the St. Louis Cardinals. "I think they'd prefer that
but I don't think it's a deal-breaker," Broxmeyer said in an interview
Three Washington-area groups have been working toward winning the Expos:
another by telecommunications executive William Collins II, a third by
Baseball sources say the Expos' new hometown won't officially be determined
until July at the earliest, but indications point strongly to the Washington
Ore., is the main challenger. New Jersey was barely mentioned as a possibility
in the meeting with Broxmeyer and his New York associates, a strong indication
it's being given no consideration.
Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos strongly opposes baseball's move to
Washington and is expected to put up a major fight, but baseball would prefer
tandem in the New Jersey scenario.
The Expos are in the unusual position of being run by the commissioner's
office, meaning baseball will determine both buyer and relocation site. Last
February, with Major League Baseball's approval, Expos owner Jeffrey Loria
bought the Florida Marlins for $158.5 million from Henry, who in turn purchased
the Red Sox. Since then, MLB has been unsuccessful in finding anybody to buy
the team and keep it in Montreal. Olympic Stadium seats 46,338 but generally
draws fewer than 10,000 fans per game.
"Major League Baseball is going to decide where the team is going to be
situated. If the team went to northern Virginia or Washington, we'd be
interested," Broxmeyer said. "Baseball has had some issues recently, and I
think the opportunity to buy is now. I'm looking at this as a business
decision. I'm serious about this. I'm not looking for press. I think my group
would be a tremendous asset to baseball."
Broxmeyer's business acumen is well known in Long Island circles. Fairfield
Properties owns 5,000 residential units, representing a true comeback story.
"He was at the bottom of the barrel and pulled himself up by the
bootstraps. He's a brilliant businessman," said Frank MacKay, a Broxmeyer
associate. "I believe there's nothing he can't do given the chance."
Providing a glimpse of the sort of owner Broxmeyer might become, MacKay
said, "He's not a control freak. He's a delegator. He'd listen to his baseball
people. He's no Jerry Jones type."
The Expos were 83-79 in 2002 despite severe payroll limitations. "The
people running the Expos did a very, very good job," Broxmeyer said. "I'm not
saying we'd clean house. If the best people are already there, they should stay
The competition to purchase the Expos is stiff. Baseball's chief operating
officer, Bob DuPuy, didn't tip baseball's hand, saying, "We regularly meet with
people interested in owning a baseball team in an effort to match up
franchises with prospective buyers. There's no commitment or preconceived bias
toward any location or particular group at this time."
Entrants already are stacked with prominent people and local celebrities.
Johnson has Redskins owner Daniel Snyder on his team. Malek's team includes
beloved Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, who is retiring at nearly 43 after a
20-year career; AOL founder James Kimsey and well-known Washington politico
and Bill Clinton friend Vernon Jordan.