New York — Theodore Lerner got a standing ovation from his soon-to-be colleagues and competitors. All that remains to complete his purchase of the Washington Nationals is the paperwork.
The $450 million sale from Major League Baseball to the group headed by Lerner and Stan Kasten was approved unanimously Thursday by owners. Sometime between mid-June and mid-July, Lerner will become the team's first real owner in 41â2 seasons.
"As a kid who grew up as a huge Senators fan, today's vote represents a dream come true," said Lerner, who exchanged greetings with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, his future Washington-area rival.
"We intend to make the Nationals a winning team, playing in what will be a great ballpark, in a city that belongs to all Americans," Lerner said.
The incoming ownership must complete its financing before the deal can close. When the Nationals open their first homestand after the All-Star break on July 21, which Kasten termed a "grand reopening," there will be some changes at RFK Stadium.
Washington is 14-27, 101â2 games back in the NL East, and attendance has dropped in the team's second season in the capital. Kasten, who will become team president, gave no timetable for deciding the futures of general manager Jim Bowden, manager Frank Robinson and other personnel.
"Next week we're going to all have an opportunity for the first time to meet the front office, meet the team and proceed from there," he said. "It's going to take a little while. I can't predict when or what will happen. But we're working on it every day."