Orioles guaranteed minimum yearly gross

The price for convincing Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos to allow the Expos to move peacefully into Washington, D.C., will be a minimum yearly gross of $130 million for the Orioles and a minimum $360 million should Angelos sell his team, both guaranteed by Major League Baseball.

These are the terms of an agreement that's nearly completed, according to Saturday's Baltimore Sun. The agreement also includes formation of a new regional cable sports network that would include both the Orioles and the ex-Expos.

The $130 million is less than the Orioles had expected to earn this year without the Expos in Washington, according to the Sun, but still gives them a floor they cannot fall through.

The $360 million, first reported by The Washington Post Friday, is still being negotiated, but could be somewhat less than what the team would be expected to sell for. In the current market, experts figure the team would sell for $300 million to $400 million.

In the case of both the yearly nut and the sale price, Major League Baseball would make up the difference if the Orioles fall short of the agreed-upon thresholds. Angelos had wanted the guaranteed yearly minimum to pass on to a new owner, which would enhance the franchise's value, but MLB refused, according to the Sun. However, the minimum price guaranteed to Angelos would increase through an escalator as franchise values in general increase.

The TV network would be controlled by the Orioles, who would own 60 percent of the stock, but profits would be split 50-50, according to the Sun.

Baseball officials would not comment openly to the Sun, but sources said that negotiations are continuing this weekend and that progress is being made in an open, candid and "very professional environment."