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Major League Baseball Returns to Washington DC - 2004-09-29

Major League Baseball is back in the nation's capital for the first time since the Washington Senators team moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1971. With Wednesday's announcement that the Montreal Expos will relocate to Washington, D.C. in time for next season. Baseball fans in Washington D.C. have not been able to attend a regular season Major League game in the capital city for more than three decades. Washington mayor Tony Williams made the announcement Wednesday that local baseball had been waiting 33 years to hear.

"You know, on September 30, 1971 the Washington Senators played their last game in Washington D.C. On September 29, 2004, nearly 33 years to the day since they left, baseball is back in Washington D.C.," he said.

Major League Baseball had been looking for a new home for the Montreal Expos since the financially-troubled team was bought by the other 29 major league owners in 2002. Washington was up against five other locations, including Monterrey, Mexico, to claim the team. The ball club will play in RFK Stadium, the same stadium the Senators last used, for the first two seasons. A planned new $400 million ballpark in Southeast Washington will become the permanent home. Mayor Williams says the ballpark will also help revitalize the community.

"Stadiums have an impact on communities. You have to look at certain communities," he said. "Look at what has happened in Denver. Look at what has happened in San Francisco. Look at what has happened in San Diego. The same thing is going to happen right here in Washington D.C."

Baseball fans in Washington have had to travel to nearby Baltimore to watch the Orioles play mostly against American League teams. Now, National League teams will visit Washington.

It is not clear if the team will retain the name Expos, if it will adopt the former Senators name, or be given a new name.

The move is not complete until it gets the formal approval by three-quarters of major league owners. The Expos' last scheduled home game was Wednesday in Montreal against the Florida Marlins.