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Washington's MLB Plan Appears to Fall Apart

Major League Baseball's plan to move the former Montreal Expos franchise to Washington D.C. appears to be falling apart.

Washington Mayor Anthony Williams said Wednesday the deal was almost dead after the city council voted to require private financing for a new stadium for the renamed Washington Nationals baseball team. Late Tuesday, the council agreed that private funds should pay for half of the estimated $280 million construction cost.

Major League Baseball says the council's action is unacceptable and inconsistent with the deal signed by the city, which outlined a funding plan using public tax and bond revenues. Baseball indicated it is ready to look for other host cities, but not until the agreement with Washington expires on December 31.

All business and promotional activities for the Washington Nationals have ceased and fans were offered refunds for tickets they bought in advance. Major League Baseball in September said it would move the Montreal Expos to Washington, bringing the professional sport back to the capital city after 33 years. The Washington Nationals would play in existing Robert F. Kennedy Stadium starting with the 2005 season until a new stadium could be completed. The new ballpark was expected to be ready in 2008.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.