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BASEBALL NAMES FIVE FOR EXPANSION PRESENTATIONS
Published October 24, 1994
MLB invited five groups to make formal presentations to the expansion committee on November 1 in Chicago. The groups selected to make presentations: St. Petersburg, Orlando, Phoenix, and two groups from Northern Virginia. The five were not called finalists for the next round of major league expansion, "but privately, baseball officials said it's reasonable to assume these are the groups still in the running" (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22). Phoenix and St. Petersburg are widely believed to be the favorites if baseball expands by two teams as early as '96. Red Sox General Partner John Harrington, chair of the expansion committee, said, "The decision to expand has not yet been made. These are preliminary interviews" (MLB). ST. PETE: Group Attorney John Higgins: "If you put the facts down, they favor the Tampa Bay area -- a season ticket base, an existing facility, a strong ownership group and a long baseball tradition." Harrington, in an interview with the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: "We are going to get into their financial information. We want to know who their decision maker will be." Harrington also said the expansion issue is agreeable to the MLBPA, saying the union "previously made a proposal that called for expansion." Harrington: "It has been brought up in discussion with them [players union] that we would like to have included in the next basic agreement the ability to expand. They didn't reject that" (Mark Topkin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/22) ORLANDO: Paul Jacobs, a partner in the effort to bring baseball to Orlando: "We knew the process was moving along. It's the next step. It's a big step." Orange County Chairman Linda Chapin: "We've got to feel good that Orlando is recognized as an important, vibrant, growing community. That is what the owners appear to be saying here" (Lawrence Lebowitz, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/22). VIRGINIA: Attorney Bart Fisher, head of Capital Baseball Inc.: "What it says is that baseball is interested in the area. We're against three other cities. I would hope they add four teams. But even if they only add two, I feel good about our chances" (Maske & Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22). William Collins, head of Virginia Baseball Club said, "I think Major League Baseball is very serious about baseball in Northern Virginia" (Kevin Lyons, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/22). Both said if they are awarded a franchise they would play in RFK Stadium while a Virginia ballpark is under construction. Several local officials and activists said it was time for Fisher and Collins "to level with the public about where a local stadium might be built" (Eric Lipton, WASHINGTON POST, 10/22).