WASHINGTON — Entering their 12th season, the Washington Nationals are the most recently established or relocated Major League Baseball franchise. But MLB is coming to Washington once again later this month.
MLB will make its second official move to the nation’s capital in mid-February, as the league will open its first official brick and mortar office in Washington.
The office itself will be on 15th Street NW in Downtown D.C., and will start with just a single full-time employee, Vice President of Government Relations Josh Alkin. Alkin has represented MLB for nearly 15 years with BakerHostetler, but will now report to MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem back at the Commissioner’s Office in New York.
“As a beloved game that operates in more than two dozen markets throughout the United States and Canada and that draws players — both Major Leaguers and Minor Leaguers — from approximately 40 countries and territories around the world, there are many legislative and policy issues on which we want to be informed,” said a league source when asked what duties Alkin would assume.
Alkin will also work with former BakerHostetler employee Lucy Caulutti and The Duberstein Group lobbying firm, to which MLB reportedly paid $100,000 in fees for work last year.
MLB’s government affairs had formerly been headed up by Bill Schweitzer, a partner at BakerHostetler who passed away suddenly last March.
“In naming Josh as Vice President of Government Relations, we were aiming for him to assume that function and to continue to be based in Washington, D.C.,” said a league representative.
One of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s first tasks after taking over his duties in late January, 2015 was to appoint a government affairs committee, which is headed up by Cincinnati Reds President & CEO Bob Castellini. But the formation of a D.C.-based office will give a physical home to those efforts.
“It is also common for MLB and its Clubs to be in the nation’s capital. Having a center of business in Washington, D.C. made the most sense,” said the league spokesman.
Washington-area baseball fans are no strangers to the rise in importance of league issues as they play out off the field. The MASN dispute between the Nationals and Orioles has been dragging on since 2012, and just two weeks ago MLB settled another television rights suit in court.
When asked about other specific issues such as the rise of daily fantasy sports and improved relations with Cuba, home to current and potential future MLB stars, the league declined to commit to specifics.
“We wish to track all issues that are relevant to our game, and there is a wide range of topics that apply to Major League Baseball.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misidentified Josh Alkin as an attorney. Also, Lucy Caulutti no longer works with BakerHostetler, running her own consulting practice.